She called 911 when her daughter was attacked; Detroit police arrived 4 days later

DPD: Investigation ongoing, but mistakes were made

DETROIT (WXYZ) - At his annual State of the City address last year, Mayor Mike Duggan applauded his police department for continuing to drop the average response time for 911 calls inside the city.

"It's a far cry from the days when 911 calls averaged 30 minutes," Duggan said to applause. 

Now, according to police officials, officers arrive on scene in about 12 minutes, sometimes sooner.

But don't tell that to the mother of a young woman who called 911 again and again last month, only to have police show up days later.

"It failed for us," she said through tears.

The mother asked that we conceal her face to protect the identity of her daughter, who she says is the victim of a crime.

The trouble started on the afternoon of September 15.  The mother, who we'll call Sandra, was visiting her young adult daughter on Detroit's west side when she heard screaming as she stepped out of her car.

"I run up to the door because I realized it was my daughter," she said. "She comes to the door and he's behind her, he's attacking her."

Her daughter's boyfriend, who she said has been abusive in the past, was pounding her with his fists.  Sandra ran up to the door and called 911. It was 1:29 PM.

"Detroit 911, what's the address of your emergency?" asked a dispatcher, according to recordings obtained by 7 Action News.

"My daughter's boyfriend was beating the (expletive) out of her," she said breathlessly into the phone before providing her address.

The dispatcher said she'd send a car that way, but 40 minutes went by and no one showed up.

Sandra called again, but this time she received an automated message. She hung up and dialed 911 once more.

"Another automated message," she said.

At 2:17 PM, she made her fourth call, this time reaching a dispatcher.

"I already called it in 45 minutes ago and I still haven't had a police officer come yet," she told the woman on the other end of the line. 

Again she was told officers would be dispatched, and again she waited. No one came.

Finally, at 3:01 PM, she called once more. This time, she asked to speak to a supervisor.

"I already called it in twice now," she said, "It's been an hour and a half and nobody shows up."

The dispatcher responded: "Hold on, let me see what's going on here," before transferring Sandra to a supervisor.

No one from DPD, according to the family, showed up on Saturday.

Around 5:00 PM that same day, Sandra said, her daughter's boyfriend returned.

"He had climbed back through her window and attacked her again," she said.

Detroit police didn't arrive at the west side home until the following Wednesday afternoon, a full four days and 34 minutes after the first call to 911.

Assistant Chief James White made no excuses when he spoke with 7 Action News about the delay last week.

"It absolutely disturbs me, if that's actually what happened" White said, adding that the department is still investigating the incident.

White said the investigation has "has already found some failures and there will be accountability for those failures."

A police spokeswoman tells 7 Action News that officers were, in fact, nearby on the Saturday Sandra called 911 and should have been directed to the home. 

Assistant Chief White says an internal investigation is still ongoing, but said everyone deserved a prompt response from 911 in Detroit.

"She's already been contacted. She was issued an apology from the commander, and I will personally talk to her if she would like to talk to me," White said.

An apology is something, says the young woman's mother, but it won't solve what she now says is her biggest fear: the next time her daughter needs 911, she won't bother to call.

"She's not feeling protected," Sandra said. "Not in the city of Detroit, that's for sure."

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.

Print this article Back to Top