WOMAN WHOSE LAWSUIT OVER THE MURDERS OF HER DAUGHTERS
GOES TO THE SUPREME COURT MONDAY TELLS MIKE WALLACE SHE
WANTS TO MAKE THE WORLD A LITTLE SAFER -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
At Issue: How Far Must Police Go to Protect People From Persons a Court Deems Dangerous Enough to Issue Restraining Orders Against
Jessica Gonzales says she wants to make the world a little safer than it was for her three daughters who were murdered by their own father. Their murders could have been prevented, she contends, if police took more action after she told them the girls were taken by her estranged husband, a man a court deemed dangerous enough to issue a restraining order against. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide Monday (21) if Gonzales can pursue a lawsuit against her town and its police. Mike Wallace's report, including Gonzales' first interview since she filed her suit, will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 20 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"I don't lose three children and not do something about it," Gonzales says. "[The lawsuit] is the only way�my best shot to make a change, to make the world a little safer," she tells Wallace.
The Castle Rock, Colo., Police Department wasn't taking her or the restraining order against her husband seriously enough, says Gonzales, when she called them a second time on the evening of the murders. In that second call, she told police she knew where the girls and their father were and that she had been told he was acting suicidal by his girlfriend. Her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, had taken the girls to an amusement park, miles away in Denver. "I told [police] that I had finally caught up with him�where he was�and as I recall, they told me that was out of their jurisdiction." Then, says Gonzales, she pleaded with the police. "I practically read the restraining order to them�What if he doesn't bring them home?"
Castle Rock Police Chief Tony Lane acknowledges that his department told Gonzales to call back in a couple hours if the girls were not returned, but disputes that she begged them to go to Denver. "In fact, she said she had told Simon to bring the kids home and he agreed to do that. So we were all under the impression that Simon was bringing the children home," says Lane.
Simon Gonzales never did return with his children; he shot all three in the head as they sat in his car.
Gonzales says she also asked whether they could call the Denver police into the matter, but Lane says there wasn't enough information. "These officers acted on the information that was available to them at the time," says Lane. "Sure [we could have called Denver police]. What would we have to tell them? 'Go�and check on the welfare of Simon Gonzales [and the kids].'"
Brian Reichel, Gonzales' lawyer, says a restraining order is just that, an order. "If there's a restraining order in place, a court order in place, telling them what to do, just do it," says
Reichel. He'll make that and other arguments for Gonzales in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
The lawsuit, if allowed by the Supreme Court, will hold police departments to a much higher standard than current laws allows. "That would have a severe impact on not only our department, but law enforcement in general," says Lane. "It would open the door to all kinds of liability issues," he tells Wallace.
And if her lawsuit fails, "then at least I know I tried. I just didn't roll over and accept it," Gonzales says.