A woman in Utah has filed a civil lawsuit against a 911 dispatch company claiming that her and her sister’s frantic and urgent calls for help as they were being beaten by an intruder during a home invasion failed to send police to their home.
In court papers filed in Salt Lake County, Breann Lasley of Salt Lake City is suing the Utah emergency dispatch company Priority Dispatch Corp. for “gross negligence” and accusing the company of creating “a technological monster.”
Breann Lasley and her sister Kayli Lasley were “attacked, stabbed and nearly beaten” in their Salt Lake City home on Sept. 23, 2015, by a man who’d entered their home around midnight through a window.
48-year-old Robert Berger had entered Ms. Lasley’s home illegally and told her to cooperate with him. She was defiant and began fighting with her attacker. Her sister was downstairs and heard her screams and ran up to help her. Her sister made 4 separate 911 calls, and it was reported that several neighbors also called the 911 dispatch service.
In an interview with ABC News in October of 2015, Breann Lasley said she was sending a text message that night. That’s when she claims she heard a man say through her partially open window, “Hey girl, I’m coming in”.
“He said, ‘Cooperate with me,'” she said.
That wasn’t going to happen.
She told him, “You’re not going to get what you want out of this situation.”
As her sister slept downstairs, Breann Lasley fought the man, saying she wanted to keep him from finding Kayli Lasley.
But Kayli heard her sisters screams and ran upstairs to help.
“I knew from her screams. … I knew it was something terrible,” Kayli Lasley said.
They struggled with him for 15 minutes but had managed to call 911 and yell out their address to the dispatcher. During that struggle, Berger stabbed Breann Lasley in the abdomen and legs.
According to the sisters, Breann Lasley yelled out the address twice “to the operator on the other end of the line”. But they didn’t send anyone, saying that because she was yelling and the phone was not at her face, the dispatcher could not make out that address.
From ABC News:
“[Breann Lasley’s] sister called 911 three more times — connecting with an operator each time — during the violent home invasion, each time desperately pleading and screaming, ‘Help us, please! Help us, he’s going to kill us. Help us, please!’ Not one of those three phone calls were dispatched,” court papers said.
Kayli Lasley can be heard talking to Berger in one of her 911 calls:
“I’ll give you anything you want! What do you want?”
“Hello?” the dispatcher says.
“He’s stabbing my sister! He’s stabbing her!” Kayli Lasley could be heard screaming during a call.
According to court documents:
“Instead of dispatching the calls and sending the police, the 911 dispatchers — using defendant Priority Dispatch Corp.’s rigid software dispatch system known as Police ProQA — were required to interrogate Bre[ann] and her sister by asking a series of scripted prompts and pre-determined questions before police could be dispatched.”
Breann Lasley told ABC News how it felt to learn that their calls had not been dispatched.
“I was physically ill and angry and also just confused,” she said. “But to be able to call 911 and not have help sent is terrible. It’s not just a disservice to the community and puts the community at risk. It literally put my life in danger.”
It is alleged that during each call, the dispatchers were following Priority Dispatch Corporation’s “Police ProQA” software/dispatch system that required a rigid series of scripted prompts and pre-determined questions to be asked and answered before police could be dispatched.
Lasley’s sister managed to escape from the house, run outside, and flag down a Salt Lake City police officer who was investigating another home invasion in the area – another break-in where Berger tried to enter a home. The officer entered the home and confronted Berger, who refused to drop his knife and was shot and killed.
Priority Dispatch President Ron McDaniel indicated that the dispatcher didn’t have the correct address to affect a proper dispatch, or police would have been more specifically notified. Police were already active in the area based on the earlier call but had no idea that a secondary attack was occurring.
It should also be noted that in the case of the multiple Lasley calls, Priority Dispatch’s system was not actually used or engaged – the calls never reached the point where an operator could effectively give specifics to police, according to Daniels.
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