Callers plead with 9-1-1 dispatchers on tapes
September 25, 2007 (WLS) -- Newly released 9-1-1 tapes show the confusion and frustration felt by people witnessing a huge fight this summer on the city's Southwest Side. One teenager wound up in coma. Others were seriously injured.
Nearly 30 minutes passed from the time the first 9-1-1 call was made until the first police officers arrived at the scene. A city investigation found police dispatchers did not do their job and failed to send officers to Durkin Park in a timely manner.
The tale told by the tape reveals no shortage of calls for help, just an inexplicable lack of response.
"Don't get me wrong, I have confidence in the police, but the 9-1-1 Center, I want nothing to do with," said Rick Kruis, injured in fight.
Rick Kruis' wife dialed 9-1-1 several times on the night of July 14. They and others saw a huge fight in Durkin Park growing out of control. They tried to get help.
9-1-1 TAPE: CALLER: "My friend was just jumped." DISPATCHER: "Can you give me a location?" CALLER: "Uh, Durkin Park, it's on 84th Street. He's laying on the ground there's blood coming out of him."
The first 9-1-1 call was logged at 10:19 that night. Twenty-six minutes -- and 51 calls to 9-1-1 later -- the first officer finally arrived on the scene.
9-1-1 TAPE: CALLER: "This is the third time I've called. This has been about 10, 15 minutes now that I've been calling for them." DISPATCHER: "Okay, I see they're going to Kildare." CALLER: "No, Kolin, too." DISPATCHER: "Okay." CALLER: "You might need to send more than one unit. This is getting big."
Before the police arrived, a 15 year-old drove a car into the crowd hitting 41-year-old Rick Kruis near his front yard.
9-1-1 TAPE: CALLER: "We got a car that just ran over about 20 people. We got people on the street. We need police and ambulance now!" DISPATCHER: "Alright, we'll be right there." CALLER: "Hurry up!" DISPATCHER: "We're on the way."
Kruis suffered injuries to his head, legs and feet. He is only back to work part-time.
"If they would have showed up, then everybody would have got dispersed," said Kruis. "It was just pure chaos and there was nobody to help."
"We certainly feel the tapes help show that police presence really anytime up to the point of the car slammed into crowd would have defused the situation," said Kenneth Lumb, attorney.
The head of Chicago's 9-1-1 Center called the actions of his dispatchers "unacceptable." Two were suspended without pay. Not enough, for those representing the injured.
"Some of them just are complacent or even sort of condescending to them, like, 'We know, we already have somebody out there,' " said Michael Gravli, attorney.
Two police dispatchers were suspended without pay and some dispatch procedures were changed as a result of this incident.
But to this day, there is still frustration that the driver of the car who hit Rick Kruis has so far not been charged with a felony. He has received a couple of tickets. The state's attorney says they are still investigating and may at some point file charges.
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