HOUSTON, Texas – A Houston Emergency Center (HEC) 911 operator is now facing criminal charges after allegedly admitting to hanging up on callers. She said he did so because “she did not want to talk to anyone,” investigators stated.
The now-former 911 operator, Crenshanda Williams, 43, is facing misdemeanor charges of Interference with an Emergency Telephone Call, according to court records obtained from the website of Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel. Williams was charged after hanging up on a caller in March 2016 who was reporting a robbery, according to the criminal complaint.
Houston police officers began investigating Williams in April after complaints were received from callers being hung up on by a 911 operator. HEC Director David Cutler and HEC Center Division Manager James Wheeler, provided documentation to Detective David Vasquez detailing Williams’ history of hanging up on incoming callers seeking emergency assistance, court records revealed.
The supervisors reported that Williams had an “abnormally large number of ‘short calls’” with a duration of 20 seconds or less. The HEC uses a system called MagIC to log all calls into the center. It records each call processed by the operators and can tell whether the call was disconnected by the caller or operator. The MagIC database report shows “thousands of short calls” that were attributed to Williams between October 2015 and March 2016. Williams began working for the HEC as a 911 operator in July 2014.
Recordings from two separate incidents were provided to Houston police officers and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Division investigators. The calls were in reference to a March 12, 2016 call about a “Shooting/Robbery/Homicide; and a March 13, 2016 call in reference to a “Speeding Vehicle,” the criminal complaint states.
Williams received calls from two different numbers in connection with the March 12 robbery/homicide call. The first call was hung up on by the defendant immediately, the report shows. A second call came in from the same number about a minute and a half later. Williams reportedly answered this call normally. After the caller, with an “accented voice” said “This is a robbery,” Williams is reported to have made an audible “sigh” and terminated the call. About ten seconds later, she received another call from a different number. This call was taken by a different operator who took the call. The caller told that operator that a man “had fired multiple [shots] during a robbery and people may be hurt,” investigators said.
Investigators later contacted that caller they had identified as Hau Li, who reported he had made the 911 calls and that he had initially been hung up on before reaching the operator that finally processed his call. Li said he had gone into a convenience store to purchase a lottery ticket and heard someone yell that a robbery was in progress. He said said he saw “a guy with a gun.” He said he heard 5-6 shots. Fearing for his life, he got in his car and drove away and began calling 911 for assistance.
The March 13 call about the speeding vehicle actually came from an “officer.” Williams received the call and reportedly answered normally. The caller said, “This is Officer Moten. I’m driving on [I]-45 South right now and right now I am at –.” The call was disconnected by Williams, investigators stated. The system continued recording her terminal and recorded Williams’ comments when she said, “Ain’t nobody got time for this. For Real.”
A second call was received was received shortly after the first call disconnected. He reached another operator who took his information that he was reported people racing cars in the area. The area was a known racing area where people had been killed just two weeks before the call.
Investigators spoke with Moten and learned he was a security officer. He had observed two people racing and called to report the dangerous behavior. He was afraid someone would get hurt, investigators stated in the affidavit. He said his first call was disconnected and that he called back a second time where he was able to complete his report.
HPD investigators contacted Williams in June and conducted an interview. “The defendant admitted that she often hangs up on calls that have not been connected because she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.”
The criminal complaint was filed on October 5. Williams was released on October 8 on a 1,000 bond, according to court records.
Hua Li told KPRC about his calls for help from the 911 center.
“They just said, ‘This is 911. How can I help you?’ I was trying to finish my sentence, and we got disconnected,” Li told the local NBC affiliate. Expressing his frustration at the call center he said, “Nobody, nobody is going to help you. You’re on your own.”
Williams’ arraignment is now scheduled for October 17 in Harris County Court at Law #4 where she will appear before Judge John Clinton, according to court records. The court records show that Williams has not yet hired an attorney. She faces two Class A misdemeanor charges of Interference with an Emergency Telephone Call. She could face up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $4,000 on each count, if convicted.