There are times when journalists question whether the materials we obtain while gathering the news are too personal, and too private, to be shared with others. This is one of those times. But ultimately, when stories concern not just individuals but public institutions, it is the public's right to know. If that brings pain to individuals, we are sorry. Truly.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Dane County Public Safety Communications Center released the tapes of the 911 calls made July 15 by Ronald Brandon, a 48-year-old Madison man, and his ex-wife Susan. Brandon was shot and killed by officers responding to his report of a man with a gun. Susan Brandon's call, which began just prior to the shooting, attempted to convey that he was armed with a harmless pellet gun.
The call from Ronald Brandon came in at 6:12 p.m. and lasted 1:34 minutes.
Susan Brandon's call came in at 6:13 p.m., and lasted 6:05 minutes.
These are among the most horrific calls you will ever hear. And it underscores the enormity of the tragedy that played out that day -- not just for Ron and Susan Brandon, but for the 911 operator and the Madison police. What happened here was terrible beyond the power of words to convey. Frankly, these tapes do a better job than any writer could.
And attention must be paid. Lessons must be learned. Changes should come. If not willingly by the police, 911 center and their overseers, then by force of public opinion. That's why we are sharing these communications with you.