The victim of a road rage incident in South Loop, Chicago on June 23 called 911 during the chaos. And she’s now come forward to claim she was told by the operator, “stop yelling at me” before being hung up on.
The woman asked not to be identified out of fear that the suspect could find her. She said that she was driving near 13th and Wabash when a man in a white van aggressively cut her off.
According to the police report, she hit the horn and the man got out of the van and started yelling “racial and gender slurs” at her.
“The words started with an N and the other one starts with a B,” she said. “He was a maniac.”
She told police that she tried to drive away, but called 911 after the man got back in his van and started to follow her.
“This car is following me. I’m on 13th and Wabash,” she told the operator.
In the call, she’s clearly frightened and shouts “he keeps trying to cut me off and he just threw something at my car.”
The operator was apparently agitated and responded by saying “Okay, stop yelling at me. What kind of car you in?”
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There’s a brief silence then the victim said:
“Are you going to help me or not? I’m scared.”
A few seconds go by of dialogue that you can’t make out, then the dispatcher says:
“You’re yelling at me. What kind of car you in?”
The victim told the dispatcher “you’re no help,” hung up. She later said she did so she feared for her life.
Shortly after, the victim said the man then got out of his van again and started to approach her… which is when the operator called back.
“Hello?” the victim said.
“What kind of car are you in ma’am?” asked the operator.
“Is this the same lady I just talked to?” the victim asked.
“Yes, it is,” the operator said.
The victim said, “I don’t want to talk to you. Put somebody else on.”
What’s not clear is whether the operator heard the request for someone else. But what you are able to make out is the operator saying “bye” and the call ends.
“She hung up on me,” the victim said.
The victim sped off and got home safely.
“So he might still be out there harassing people,” she said.
She later filed a police report, along with a complaint to an Office of Emergency Management and Communications supervisor.
According to the victim, OEMC managers called her back the next day and apologized. She says they also told her they had plans to discipline the operator.
“I think she should be disciplined,” the victim said. “I think termination, but at least some kind of probation.”
An OEMC spokeperson told media outlets that disciplinary proceedings are underway for the employee and that the employee will also be retrained. They also said the road rage call will be used for OEMC training purpose in the future.
OEMC says that police were dispatched to 13th and Wabash for the call.
Last year in Harris County, Texas, a former 911 operator who hung up the phone “thousands” of times on people attempting to report emergencies in Harris County, Texas was sentenced to jail time.
Crenshanda Williams, 44, was found guilty by a jury of interference with emergency telephone calls after “systematically” hanging up the phone on residents of Harris County, ABC13 reported.
As a result of her guilt, she was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months probation.
Williams misdeeds were discovered while Houston Emergency Center (HEC) officials conducted monthly audits. During the internal review they discovered she had an unusual number of “short calls,” which were no longer than 20 seconds. According to the Houston Chronicle, prosecutors determined she hung up on “thousands” of calls.
In one instance, emergency caller Jim Moten told ABC13 he called 911 in 2016 after he spotted two vehicles speeding on a highway. It was the same location where people had been killed from speeding weeks earlier. However, he thought his call had dropped after a few seconds.
“Come to find out I was hung up on,” he said.
Court documents, according to the news station, stated that Williams had taken Moten’s call and, before he could finish explaining his emergency, she reportedly said: “Ain’t nobody got time for this. For real.”
Another hang-up included a person trying to report a violent robbery, reported the Chronicle.
Williams reportedly spent a year and a half at the HEC taking 911 calls. Her negligence was discovered in August 2016. Consequently, she was fired.
Documents also stated, “thousands of short calls have been attributed to the defendant from October 2015 through March 2016.”
“The citizens of Harris County rely on 911 operators to dispatch help in their time of need,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder said in a statement. “When a public servant betrays the community’s trust and breaks the law, we have a responsibility to hold them criminally accountable.”
Williams’ attorney, Franklin Bynum, argued that his client “was going through a hard time in her life” when she hung up on the emergency calls, and said “punishing her doesn’t do anything to fix the problems that still exist at the emergency center.”
It’s unclear what problems at the center Bynum was referring to.
The “state-of-the-art” center was opened in 2003 as a consolidation of Houston’s three emergency communication centers. This is how the HEC is described:
Prior to September 2003, Houston had three emergency communications centers for 9-1-1: Neutral Public Safety Answering Point, Police Department Emergency Communications Division, and Fire Department Emergency Communications Operations. Each agency had separate answering centers, computer networks, and technical support. The development of the state-of-the-art Houston Emergency Center (HEC) consolidates all of these efforts.
Along with HEC providing 24/7 round-the-clock emergency 9-1-1 services, the facility is a $50 million investment towards a secured facility equipped with state of the art emergency communications technology. These advancements are utilized by the center’s 9-1-1 call takers and emergency dispatchers from the Houston Police and Fire Departments. System upgrades include police dispatch, fire dispatch, fire records, fire alerting, and geographic information at a cost of approximately $12 million. Antiquated facilities have been replaced with an innovative and redundant complex that consolidates emergency communications.