Local News

Probe Launched After Teen's 911 Plea Apparently Ignored

Posted September 24, 2006

— Wayne County authorities are investigating why a Fremont teenager's 911 plea for help went unanswered after he reported he was attacked this past weekend.

James Harris, 15, said he was walking down a sidewalk Sunday night when a car pulled up to him and four men jumped out of it, pointed guns at him, kicked him and stole his backpack.

He was not seriously injured, and after the assailants left, Harris said he called 911. Following is part of the conversation with a dispatcher, as recorded on tape at the 911 dispatch center:

"They pulled out guns like mad crazy on me," Harris tells the 911 operator who handled his call. After there is no response, he says, "Hello?"

"Yeah, I'm listening," the dispatcher says.

"They pulled out guns on me, man," Harris says.

Harris went on to describe the car and the direction in which it was traveling. The dispatcher told Harris that authorities would be on alert. Nearly a half-hour after the initial 911 call, Harris called 911 again.

"I'm calling back to see if you got those guys," he tells the 911 dispatcher.

"If we got what?" asks the dispatcher.

"Those guys that pulled them guns on me," Harris says.

"No, sir -- unable to locate them," the dispatcher says.

Authorities said the operator never dispatched anyone or reported the call to local police. Fremont's police chief said he was actually on duty and on patrol the night of the attack, but did not know about the incident until the victim and his mother found him on their own two hours after the first 911 call.

Once alerted of the matter, police began an investigation.

"You think they're (the 911 operators are) there to help protect us, and then this is what you get," said Harris' mother, Wilma Harris. "That individual should no longer have a job with 911."

Wayne County Communication Supervisor Delbert Edwards said he did not know about the problem until WRAL contacted him. After listening to the call, he said the operator violated policy. Edwards started an internal investigation.

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