A valley mother desperately trying to safeguard herself and her children is denied protection by the court shorlty before they're all killed. How did the system fail this family?
Phoukeo Dej-Oudom and her 3 children were killed a week ago Wednesday. Police say her husband and the children's father, Jason Dej-Oudom, shot them all before taking his own life.
Just a month before the tragedy, she filed for divorce and requested a temporary protection order against her husband from the Clark County Family Court.
Family Violence Commissioner Amy Mastin denied that request, saying it didn't meet statutory requirements even as Phoukeo Dej-Oudom foreshadowed her family's fate.
In her own hand, she wrote: "The children's lives as well as mine have been threatened. Guns have been pulled out and pointed to our heads multiple times."
We wanted to know why Mastin denied the protection order, but she declined our request for an on-camera interview. The court sent us this statement saying, "With the benefit of hindsight, it is arguable that the TPO should have been ordered."
But, it goes on to say the problems Mrs. Dej-Oudom detailed happened many years ago in Ohio and there was "nothing that had recently occurred in Las Vegas."
The protection order request did describe harassing telephone calls, visits and threats by Jason Dej-Oudom.
And although harassing conduct could lead to a protection order under Nevada's domestic violence law, Mastin determined that our state's legal standards were not met. The court also says Phoukeo Dej-Oudom did not appear at a June 22 hearing on her motion for temporary child custody.
The court says it's always looking for ways to be more effective and it mourns the loss of the Dej-Oudom family. They say the court will continue to work with community partners to address the far-reaching issue of domestic violence in Clark county.
Here is the court's full statement:
The Eighth Judicial District Court is saddened and concerned about the tragedy which occurred with the Dej-Oudom family. The mother filed an action for Divorce and a Motion for temporary child custody determination on May 25. She focused her motion on her concern that the father would take the children out of the state. A hearing was set to hear her motion before the District Judge on June 22; although neither she, nor the father appeared.
The mother also filed an application for a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) on June 8. Her application was reviewed by a Domestic Violence Hearing Master, who determined, based upon information provided by the mother, that her request for a TPO did not meet the statutory requirements to issue a temporary order. In her TPO application, the mother referenced situations in Ohio many years ago between 2000 and 2007 involving the father and guns, but nothing that had recently occurred in Las Vegas.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is arguable that the TPO should have been ordered. However, regrettably, the mother did not present facts that would have statutorily warranted the Hearing Master to grant her Protective Order; nor did she appear at a June 22 hearing before a District Judge to obtain her requested relief.
Nevada Revised Statute 33.018 defines those acts which constitute domestic violence. That law defines those acts as a battery, an assault, compelling the other person to perform or to refrain from an act, a sexual assault, harassing conduct, false imprisonment or unlawful entry into the other person’s residence.
In her statement supporting her TPO application, the mother referenced receiving harassing telephone calls on June 7 and the father’s continuing threat to take the children out-of-state without her permission. She also stated that the father said “if anything were to happen to the children, hopes I can live w/ that” and that “this will not end well.” Another incident in “mid May” referenced a situation when the father “knocked a hat off” mother’s head and his refusal to leave until the mother spoke to him outside. The father left after an hour and was told that he was no longer welcome in that home. The application also referenced that the father was arrested or charged with domestic violence in Ohio back in 2005. Based upon the information provided by the mother, the Hearing Master determined that the standards outlined in NRS 33.018 were not met.
The Domestic Violence Hearing Masters and District Judges in the Family Division receive continual
training in Domestic Violence issues. The Domestic Violence Hearing Masters have attended three week-long intensive domestic violence trainings in the last two years, two of which were conducted by the National Judicial College and the other by the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. The Court also meets quarterly with our domestic violence community partners to discuss concerns and ways to improve the Court’s effectiveness.
The Court mourns the Dej-Oudom family’s loss from this tragedy and will continue to work with our community partners in addressing the far-reaching issue of domestic violence in Clark County.