The arrest of NFL cornerback Richard Sherman generated plenty of coverage and reactions, and some specific scorn was reserved for the 911 dispatcher who took his wife’s initial call.
That call is now under investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office, a public information officer confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Monday.
In a recording of the call obtained by Seattle’s KIRO, the dispatcher answered a distraught-sounding Ashley Sherman, who requested immediate assistance because her husband is “drunk and belligerent and threatening to kill himself.” The dispatcher immediately interjected over Sherman’s pleas, saying “stop” repeatedly, then “you need to stop interrupting me so I can get the information I need to get officers expedited.”
Later in the call, after Sherman describes her husband wrestling her uncle, the dispatcher responds “trying to fight somebody and actually making physical contact are two different things. How is it physical?” When Sherman stresses the situation is “a f***ing emergency,” the dispatcher says “Listen to me, I am handling this. You need to stop telling me that. Talking to me is not going to slow help down.”
At another point in which a man has joined Sherman on the call, the dispatcher reacts by saying “Sir, I only talk to one person so please put the phone down.”
The dispatcher was so criticized that the Redmond Police Department put out a statement Monday distancing itself from the call, which was handled by the King County Sheriff’s Office. The statement also mentioned King County will be conducting an administrative review of the call that will require several months.
“Many have mistakenly associated those calls to the City of Redmond’s Communications Center, which is not connected to the King County Sheriff’s Office. The City of Redmond was not involved in the recordings highlighted by the complaints. The King County Sheriff’s Office, in response to public comment, opened an administrative review of this matter that will take several months to conclude.”
Subsequent calls regarding Sherman were handled by Redmond, where Sherman later drove and tried to break down the door of his in-laws’ house.
Former King County sheriff defends 911 dispatcher
While the dispatcher was widely criticized, she had one defender in former King County sheriff John Urquhart, who told KIRO that she needed to be “short” due to the nature of her job:
“The dispatcher has certain information she has to get, and she has to get it right now,” Urquhart said.
“She’s short with the woman because she’s taking control. Any time you’re in a conversation with someone, when someone takes control, that makes people step back and say, ‘hey wow what’s going on here?’ But in this case, they don’t understand why it’s so important, why it’s absolutely critical and it can be life and death. They may be upset with kind of the tone of it. But when you realize all that has to be done, it’s just fine.”
Sherman apologizes, pleads not guilty
After his arrest, Sherman was initially held without bail on a felony “burglary domestic violence” charge, but was later released.
Sherman posted an apology for his actions, pledging to get help for his “mental and emotional health.”
While the felony charge was dropped, Sherman was charged with five misdemeanors, per the Seattle Times: criminal trespass in the second degree with a domestic-violence element, reckless endangerment of roadway crews, driving under the influence, resisting arrest and malicious mischief with a domestic-violence element.
Sherman pleaded not guilty to all charges Friday.
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