Widow of man killed in Colorado Springs demands to know why police failed to respond to 911 call

Talija Campbell speaks at a press conference in Colorado Springs on Thursday, June 8, 2023. Her husband was killed during an alleged hostage situation in early June. Campbell is calling on police to explain why they failed to respond to her 911 call for help.

The family of a man who was shot and killed in Colorado Springs last week is asking the city's police department why it didn't respond to a 911 call reporting the man had been taken hostage.

Qualin Campbell, 32, was killed in what police are investigating as a murder/suicide just one mile from the police dispatch center.

Harry Daniels, an attorney for the family, said Campbell's wife Talija had called 911 an hour earlier, saying her husband had been taken hostage in his work vehicle.

"They didn't respond at all to her call, for help for hostage, they responded after 'shots been fired'," Daniels said during a press conference in front of the police department's headquarters on Thursday, June 8.

On its online police blotter, the Colorado Springs Police Department said it found two deceased adult males on Friday at the location that Talija Campbell said she feared her husband Qualin Campbell was being held by another man. It said the officers responded to a report of a shooting there at 2:09 p.m.

Talija Campbell said she called 911 just after 1 p.m. when her husband, a father of two, texted his location and a photo of a man sitting next to him in his car. Then he sent messages saying “911" and "Send Please!” She called the emergency number.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Civil rights attorney Harry Daniels speaks at a press conference in Colorado Springs on Thursday, June 8 on behalf of Talija Campbell, whose husband was killed during an alleged hostage situation. Campbell is calling on police to explain why they failed to respond to her 911 call for help.

Campbell said she told one dispatcher that she believed her husband had been taken hostage, described his car and his location, which was about a mile away from the headquarters of the Colorado Springs Police Department. She was then transferred to a dispatcher responsible for taking Colorado Springs calls. The first dispatcher briefed the second dispatcher on what Campbell reported, she said, before Campbell said she explained what she knew again to the second dispatcher. The dispatcher said an officer would check it out and get back to her but there was no sense of urgency, Campbell said, so she drove to the location herself.

When she arrived Campbell said she immediately recognized her husband's company car in a parking lot. She said when she saw her husband slumped over inside the car alongside another man, she fell to her knees and started screaming. As other people gathered around, they debated whether they should open the car door after seeing a gun on the lap of the other man, who appeared to be unconscious but did not have any visible injuries, she said.

Campbell said she decided to open the door to try to save her husband, who had been bleeding, but found no pulse on his neck or wrist.

“I shouldn’t have been the one there, the first person to respond,” she said.

She said her husband's uncle, who also went to the scene, called police to report that Qualin Campbell was dead.

When asked about Campbell's 911 call and the police response to it, police spokesman Robert Tornabene said he couldn't comment because there was an “open and active criminal investigation” into the deaths.

Daniels said she wants answers from the department about why it did not respond to her call, saying Qualin Campbell might still be alive if they had.

“I can’t think of anything that could take higher precedence than a hostage situation, except maybe an active shooter,” he said.

Police have named the other man in the vehicle as 44-year-old David Karels. It's unclear what happened before Campbell was shot.

Campbell's family is considering a lawsuit and has launched a GoFundMe.