911 Dispatchers Ignored Teen’s Pleas For Help Before Police Killed Him

Priyanka Prasad
Two 911 dispatchers ignored 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier's calls for help. When officers finally arrived on the scene, they shot LeGrier six times.

Quintonio LeGrier

Chicago has experienced many horrific instances of police brutality, particularly within the past few years—the corruption and cover-up involved in the shooting of Laquan McDonald recently had the public clamoring for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.

In another appalling instance of public services failing community members, audio recordings released by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) reveal 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier attempted to call 911 three times, and the first two dispatchers essentially ignored his requests for help. LeGrier, a college student studying engineering, but had mental health issues, was shot six times by police on their arrival.

According to ThinkProgress, “In the first call made on December 26, LeGrier asks the dispatcher to send an officer, but doesn’t specify why one is needed. The teenager repeatedly says the word 'emergency,' but the dispatcher says she won’t send an officer until LeGrier says his full name. She hangs up in less than two minutes.”

During the second call, LeGrier asks “Can you please send the police?” yet when he doesn’t answer the dispatcher’s questions, she ends the call after 41 seconds.

After a third call, a dispatcher finally sends police to LeGrier’s home; his father has also made a 911 call at this point, saying that his son was holding a baseball bat.

Officer Robert Rialmo arrived at LeGrier’s residence, fatally shot his 55-year-old neighbor Bettie Jones who opened the building door, then shot LeGrier at least six times. Police officials deemed Jones’s shooting an “accident.”

In an unacceptable trend, the reckless behavior of police officers compounded with the utter carelessness of 911 dispatchers created a tragedy that could have otherwise been prevented. The dispatchers involved in the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice were similarly negligent, omitting a significant detail in relaying information to the police. Although the caller who reported Rice said that the gun he was holding was probably fake, dispatchers did not inform the police of this.

Perhaps in an attempt to gain positive PR, Mayor Emanuel just released personal text messages he sent on December 26 that demonstrate immediate concern for the fatal shooting of LeGrier, which act in stark contrast to his attempt to mask the details of McDonald’s shooting.

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @GlobalGrind