911 Operators Ignore Call; Wrongful Death Suit Filed

911 Operators Ignore Call; Wrongful Death Suit Filed

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the city of Detroit after two 911 operators failed to respond to an emergency call made by a 5-year-old boy on behalf of his mother.

Robert Turner called 911 two times on February 20th to get help for his mother, Sherrill Turner, who had collapsed. Both times, his calls for help went ignored.

Sharon Nichols, 43, and Terri Sutton, 47, - the 911 operators who answered Turner’s calls – neglected to treat them as a true emergency, figuring them instead to be pranks.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy said that Nichols, who spoke with Turner for a little more than 40 seconds, “failed to adhere to the pattern of questioning designed to evaluate a call, and she failed to treat the call as an emergency.”

Nichols never dispatched a police car to the home to investigate boy’s report. Police were only sent to the boy’s home after his second call, which came approximate 3 hours later.

Sutton, who took that call, also considered it a prank and “allegedly only sent a police car out to discipline the child and inform the parent that the child was dialing 911,” Worthy said.

Sherrill Turner, 46, was dead by the time the police arrived. An autopsy found that she had an enlarged heart.

“I understand they get quite a few crank calls, but you have to take it seriously when someone calls 911,” Worthy said.

She added that the boy’s mother might have lived had the operators followed proper questioning techniques and taken his calls seriously.

Geoffrey Fieger, the family’s attorney, agreed. He said that Robert’s mother would have survived if help had been sent immediately.

The two women have been charged with willful neglect of duty by the county prosecutor. Each could face up to a year in jail if convicted.

Find a Lawyer Now

Search for a Personal Injury lawyer in your state or province by using the forms to the right.