Prosecutors say a former 911 operator in Houston has been found guilty of hanging up on people calling for emergency services and sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months of probation.
One such victim of the operator’s laziness recalled this account.
Hua Li spent two minutes and three tries to get help from Houston 911 as a convenience store owner lay bleeding to death on the floor of his store after being shot.
Li was about to walk into a Raceway in Houston to buy a lottery ticket in May 2016 but was stopped by another person’s warning: Somebody was robbing the store.
Li caught a glimpse of a man holding a gun, court documents say. Then he heard a half a dozen gunshots.
He hopped into his car and sped away, and as he put distance between himself and the crime, he pulled out his phone to dial 911.
The phone line picked up, then immediately disconnected.
Li tried again. Thirty seconds later, his call went through to Crenshanda Williams. “Houston 9-1-1-, do you need medical, police or fire?” she asked.
“This is a robbery,” Li blurted out.
Li heard a sigh, then nothing. The call had been disconnected again.
On Wednesday, Williams was sentenced to a remarkably light sentence of 10 days in jail and 18 months on probation after she was convicted of hanging up on thousands of calls during the 18 months that she worked as a 911 dispatcher for the city of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Harris County district attorney’s office says jurors on Wednesday found 44-year-old Crenshanda Williams guilty of interference with emergency telephone calls, a misdemeanor. A judge sentenced her.
Prosecutors say she worked as a 911 operator for a year and a half, ending in 2016. Records showed that thousands of calls lasting less than 20 seconds were attributed to her hanging up.
Calls varied from reports of robberies and homicides to reports of speeding vehicles.
Williams told investigators she often hung up because she didn’t want to talk to anyone at those times.
Franklin Bynum, Williams’s attorney, doing his best to deflect from the heinous acts of his defendant, told the Houston Chronicle that the case had unearthed systemic problems at the city’s emergency center, which had consolidated calls for police, the fire department and paramedics 15 years ago.
His concocted excuse is that one of the problems was that the system drops calls instead of rerouting them if dispatchers aren’t ready for them — and that his client was a scapegoat for a broken system.
“She was going through a hard time in her life, and she was a poor-performing worker at the Houston Emergency Center,” he said. “But punishing her doesn’t do anything to fix the problems that still exist at the emergency center.”
Williams’s supervisor was put on internal probation for a year, the Chronicle reported, but a jury found Williams criminally responsible for ignoring thousands of calls.
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April 23rd 2018