From birth, everyone is taught pretty much the same thing: If there’s an emergency, call 911. They’ll help you.
But for thousands of callers in Houston, that advice wasn’t enough, according to police, because of a 911 operator who is accused of regularly hanging up on people, even in life-and-death situations.
Take Hua Li, who was buying a lottery ticket at a convenience store on March 12 when an armed man entered the store and forced his way behind the counter, then began shooting. Li fled the store and called 911, and Crenshanda Williams answered. Before Li could even finish his sentence, the line went dead, he said. He called again and got a different operator, but by the time help arrived, the convenience store clerk was dead, according to KPRC.
Or there’s the case of Buster Pendley and his wife, Sharon Stephens. When Stephens collapsed on March 1 with a blood clot in her lungs, Pendley dialed 911 and was connected to a woman who identified herself as Crenshanda, he said. After she asked him how could she help, he asked for an ambulance. She said, “OK,” and hung up, according to KPRC.
Pendley redialed and was connected to a different operator, who called an ambulance and stayed on the line. Stephens ended up being fine, but she told KPRC the incident still makes her angry.
“I was furious cause he didn’t tell me what happened, cause I would have, I mean I would have gotten from my hospital bed and gone to 911 and find out who did that to me,” she said.
Or there was the time a security guard called to report a case of drag racing. Before he finished describing the situation, Williams allegedly sighed and said “ain’t nobody got time for this. For real,” before hanging up.
All told, managers counted thousands of calls that lasted 20 seconds or fewer on Williams’s call log between October 2015 and March 2016, according to KPRC. When police asked her why she acted as she did, she allegedly said she “did not want to talk to anyone at that time.” She is no longer employed by the Houston Emergency Center.
Court records do not indicate whether Williams has entered a plea, and it is unclear if she has retained a lawyer, according to the Washington Post. She is scheduled to appear in court next week.