Cleveland mother wants answers about 911 delays

Posted at 5:24 PM, May 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 17:24:25-04

Cleveland failed to deliver on its promise to local mother to investigate 911 delays

Despite the promise of an investigation, a Cleveland mother said city officials have yet to provide answers about why dispatchers failed to answer 911 calls for up to four minutes after her son was shot last November.

Sonia Harris said she constantly thinks about whether her son, Deonte, would have survived if help had arrived on time.

“He was only 24 and his life is gone,” she said.

“There was a big possibility he still could have been here . . .  there was still a chance. A chance that he was robbed of,” she said.

5 On Your Side Investigators obtained recordings of three separate 911 calls made to Cleveland after Harris was allegedly shot by Richard Barringer, 32, on Nov. 4, 2015.

During the calls, CECOMS dispatchers can be heard expressing frustration over Cleveland's failure to answer the calls.

"I mean, oh my God, come on Cleveland!" said a CECOMS dispatcher.

"Hello Cleveland? Cleveland! Three minutes and thirty-eight seconds and then they hung up on me," she said.

Harris was later pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center.

On Nov. 6, Cleveland's Department of Public Safety issued a statement that said, in part, it was "investigating all 911 calls from the November 4th homicide at West 82nd and Neville." 

When 5 On Your Side Investigators checked in with Harris in April, she told us no one from the City of Cleveland had contacted her.

“I've never heard anything from anyone,” she said.

“I think it's sad on the city's behalf that they wouldn't even reach out and say something, take some type of responsibility,” she said.

5 On Your Side Investigators asked Tim Hennessy, Cleveland Assistant Director of Facilities and Police, why the city has not contacted Harris.

Hennessy said he was unfamiliar with the details of her case.

“It's just not acceptable that someone couldn't get through,” he said.

“I will find out where the investigation is and why she hasn’t been contacted,” he said.

When 5 On Your Side Investigators asked the city about 911 delays after the shooting, we were told the city reviewed the incident.

Daniel Ball, Cleveland Assistant Director of Media Relations, sent us the following information:

There were at least 8 incoming calls received for this incident between 13:12:50 and 13:18:12 hours.  In addition to those received, there were two abandoned calls (the caller hung up before the call was delivered to a call taker) found to be related to this event.  These calls came in at 13:13:20 and 13:13:47 seconds.   

The following is the chronology of the event:

1.         13:12:50         First call enters the phone system - call answered in 19 seconds

2.         13:12:44         Second call enters the phone system - call answered in 2 seconds

3.         13:13:02         Third call enters the phone system - call answered in 17 seconds

4.         13:13:09         Fourth call enters the phone system - call answered in 32 seconds

            13:13:20         Abandoned Call (later found to be relative to this incident)

            13:13:47         Abandoned Call (later found to be relative to this incident)

5.         13:14:35         Hang up call connection with this incident - called back by call taker, info added to CAD

6.         13:16:49         Info received from CECOMS connection with incident.  CECOMS was connecting a caller but caller hung up after 3:38 wait.  Additional info added to CAD incident by call taker.

7.         13:16:38         Another call enters the system - call answered in 1 minute and 11 seconds

8.         13:18:12         Another call enters the system - call answered in 36 seconds

5 On Your Side Investigators have reported on 911 problems in the City of Cleveland for months.

Friday, Sarah Buduson's exclusive investigation will reveal new information that sheds light on serious breakdowns in Cleveland's emergency response systems.

"Dangerous Delays" airs after 20/20 on NewsChannel 5 at 11 p.m.