911 Dispatcher Ignores Call For Help - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/29/05-Smith County

911 Dispatcher Ignores Call For Help

A 911 dispatcher fails to respond to a call for help from the scene of a bloody confrontation.

Tuesday night, we told you about a fight involving at least 30 people from Lindale, Van, and Canton. It sent several people to the hospital and two to jail.

Aaron Bernard, 21, is the man who was most seriously injured. Authorities say he was likely a victim trying to get people off his property.

A 911 call for help was ignored.

Dispatcher: "Smith County 911. What's your emergency?"

Caller: "There's a bad emergency. I just drove by it. It's on 110, right past 849 heading east."

The caller gave the dispatcher the correct location, plus the fact that the fight was visible to a car passing by. Instead of sending officers to the scene, the dispatcher continued asking the caller for more specific directions and his name.

"The correct situation would have been to just dispatch the call for an unknown circumstance and send police response," Jana Bradley, shift supervisor for the Smith County 911 Communications District, said.

But that's not what happened.

"No one ever came. And he's laying in the middle of the driveway bleeding," Jim Bernard, Aaron's father, said.

Investigators say Aaron had been severely beaten by a group of other men. Twenty-four minutes after the initial 911 call came a second call from another person at the scene.

Caller: "We just got the hell beat out of three of our guys. And we're going to the hospital. And I would expect the cops to already be out here doing the report and stuff. We got windows bashed out. We got a golf cart thrown in the ditch that we just had to get out."

Dispatcher: "Ok, ok, sir, again, like I'm telling you, I didn't know that anybody had called in. But unless somebody will stay on the phone and let us know what's going on, it's not customary for us to send our officers into a situation without knowing what's going on."

"It would be true to say that the second telecommunicator did not handle that situation correctly either," Bradley said.

"It really surprises me that they talked that long and no one was sent out there," Jim Bernard said.

Smith County 911 says, each month, it gets 16,000 calls into its call center and fewer than one complaint. So they say it is rare a dispatcher does not send help.

Bradley says the dispatcher that took the first call was given a verbal reprimand for not sending officers. She says the second dispatcher will probably face the same.

Jim Bernard says he plans to take legal action against the men who beat up his son and against Smith County 911.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com

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