911 Operator Guilty of Blowing Off Call

  1. 911 Operator Guilty of Blowing Off Call

    Posted: 2008-01-18 22:20:28

    Filed Under: Crime News, Nation News

    DETROIT (Jan. 18) - A jury convicted a 911 operator Friday of willful neglect of duty after authorities said she didn't take seriously a boy's calls to report his mother had collapsed. The mother was found dead three hours after the first call.

    The misdemeanor charge against Sharon Nichols is punishable by up to a year in jail. She will be sentenced March 11.

    Photo Gallery

    Carlos Osorio, AP

    911 Operator
    Dismissed Call

    Sharon Nichols, right, standing next to her attorney Cornelius Pitts in 2006, was found guilty Friday of willful neglect of duty for failing to respond appropriately to a boy's call that his mother needed help.

    Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lora Weingarden said she was more than satisfied with the verdict.

    "I hope that it makes every 911 operator in the city and across the country think real hard before dismissing a call as a prank," Weingarden said outside the courtroom.

    She said the case marks the first time nationally that a 911 operator has been charged with a crime for mishandling a phone call, the Detroit Free Press reported.

    Nichols, 45, testified she could not hear the then-5-year-old boy on the other end of the line. Authorities said Robert Turner called 911 twice on Feb. 20, 2006, to report his mother had passed out.

    Robert, now 7, testified that Nichols hung up on him and accused him of playing games.

    Police found Sherrill Turner, 46, dead three hours after the first call. A wrongful death lawsuit against the city argues Sherrill Turner, who had an enlarged heart, would have survived if help had been sent immediately.

    Nichols and her attorney, Cornelius Pitts, left the courthouse without commenting.

    Charges were dismissed Wednesday against operator Terri Sutton, who took the boy's second call. She was accused of ignoring protocol by requesting police instead of emergency personnel.

    Judge Paula Humphries said Sutton may have been rude but there was no evidence of willful neglect.
  2. GOOD!!:woohoo:

    I have to say this is one thing I notice, whenever I hear a 911 tape played on the news I pay attention to the dispatcher as well as the caller. Sometimes the dispatchers are downright RUDE, cold and impatient. I then think to myself, why is this person in this line of work?....and that's putting it nicely.

    This should be a very strong message to 911 operators.
  3. I can't believe this.

    It IS true though that lots of kids prank call 911.

    Awhile ago, my 5-6 year old cousin called 911 (on a cell phone), and hung up. They called back repeatedly, but he did not answer knowing he was in trouble. They somehow managed to get my uncle's info (the cell was under his name) and they ended up calling the house phone. They came to the house, and asked my cousin to come outside so they could ask him questions. They asked him "Did anyone hit you?" and he said.. "Yes" and they asked him to show them who had hit him. He lead them to a bedroom where his 3-4 year old friend was sleeping! It was very funny and cute. Just thought I'd share.
  4. ^^I know, it's probably why the operator did not take it seriously, but just as the operator in your story called back and didn't dismiss it, they persued it as though it was a serious call. The operator in the OP's story should have done the same, take it seriously no matter what. The woman who was just convicted should be enough of a wakeup call to make every 911 operator take every call seriously, no matter what. It's a crime that these operators do waste precious moments on prank calls, but this case just proves all need to be taken seriously.
  5. I call all the time to 911 whenever I see an accident. I never assume someone else has called. Anyhow, a lot of the time they just say "Are you calling about the accident on I-5 in Elk Grove?" I say yes, they say "Already reported" and hang up. It seems really brusque but I guess they are doing their job and not wasting time.

    I actually applied and tested to be an operator in California, but then decided to go to school. They work 12 hour shifts and it's a very crazy, demanding job!
  6. when i was little, i think 4, i saw a commercial advertising 911....i was curious and I called.. i heard the operator and hung up,,,about 10 minutes later there were 2 cops in my apartment.
    I remeber this vaguely, but i sure got in trouble for that!!!

    But yes it is true, a lot of people, not just kids, prank call 911, but it is the operators job to seek out help, not ignore it!
    I hope this woman gets a long time.
    Poor kid, i wonder how he feels about cops, he probably will never have the courage to call them again.
  7. thank you for moving this! i wasn't sure where to put it in. :flowers:
  8. I think they need to take every call seriously. If it turns out to be a prank then the parents of the prankster or the prankster themselves will be held accountable for it.

    My boss always tells me, "Cover your a$$."
  9. It is true a lot of children prank call 911, but this just highlights what can go wrong when it's an actual call. I feel so bad for that little boy who had to watch his mother die! Brings tears to my eyes! My sister and cousin prank called 911 once when they were 5 also, and at that time, we immediately got a phone call back to make sure everything was okay. You just never know.
  10. I agree with Jan!, they should take each call seriously...
  11. I agree with you here...I am a nurse and I work in a nursing home. There are times when we have to 911 residents out and those dispatchers can be very rude. I just want to scream at them "Don't like your job? Get another one" :boxing:!
  12. Can you imagine this poor child, horrified, thinking he is doing the right thing by calling 911 (he was) and hoping that this "adult" would help his mommy, only to be chastised while his mommy lay dying. This makes me sick. I hope that she is real proud of herself.
  13. I'm glad she was found guilty. I'm sure they get a lot of prank calls, but I'd rather make sure everything was okay before assuming it was a kid playing a joke. I feel so sorry for the little boy who had to lose his Mom, when he was trying to do the right thing.
  14. I hope she gets a longer term than 1yr. She had a duty of care to help that child and failed, the woman's life may have been saved if she had acted on the childs calls for help.
  15. How incredibly sad.

    My son ised to sleep walk when he was a child. One night I caught him just as he hung up the phone and went back to bed, the whole time he was alseep. (I had no idea he dialed 911) Ten minutes later (it was 3 in the morning!) two Sheriff's Deputies were at my front door. They insisted I let them in to make sure no-one was making me say everything was alright... I let them in, woke up my son, he apologized, I thanked the officers and everyone went back to their lives.

    The next day I called and told the supervisor of the 911 operators about the incident and thanked them for the fine and fast response. Had I been in trouble, we had someone there to help us.