Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Family seeks answers after a 911 call leads to confusionSubmitted: 04/10/2017

Dakota Sherek
Reporter/Anchor
dsherek@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - A bomb squad team, special responders, and dozens of law enforcement officers filled a Rhinelander neighborhood last Friday for what they thought was a potentially violent situation. 

The hours-long ordeal eventually ended with the discovery that it was simply a medical emergency.


"Total shock as to how this all played out and how they [law enforcement] got this information that was not true," said Shannon Smith, daughter of the 911 caller.

Thomas Smith was detained by law enforcement after he called 911 for a medical emergency.

"He point blank was trying to get help and it was taken way too far, and now my dad is in the hospital," said Shannon.

He got medical help, but the family says police wounded him, too.

"My dad does have cuts, scrapes on his head, a bump on his head, cut-up knees," said Alan Smith, Thomas Smith's son.

Sixty-five-year-old Smith has Parkinson's disease, and his family says he cannot physically speak. So when Smith called 911, the dispatcher had to use a special technique to communicate with him.

911 operators can prompt callers to respond through button pushes. 

"It's not been used in… forever," said Oneida County Sheriff's Office Capt. Terri Hook.

When Smith indicated that he needed both the police and an ambulance, the dispatcher asked follow-up questions throughout the 56-minute call. 

Smith's responses led law enforcement to believe Smith was being held hostage by a man with guns and explosives.

Smith's family doesn't buy it.

"When a person cannot communicate, and he's short of breath, you're going to press every button on the phone to get help," said Alan.

The dispatch call ended abruptly. So when Smith exited his home, the Oneida County Special Response team detained him.

The family says Smith was treated roughly.

"He did say he was forced down, he was slammed to the ground," said Alan.

Hook says Smith was not following directions, so Smith was then "decentralized." 

"We acted on the information that we had," Hook said. "We couldn't have acted any other way."

The family says Smith will be OK, but the experience has taken a toll on him.

"He is just really shaken up, he's very upset, a lot of different emotions going on with my family," said Shannon.

Meanwhile, Hook says law enforcement did what they needed to do.

"We needed to keep the community safe as well as our officers safe, and we just did the best we could with the information that we had," said Hook. 

The family thinks the situation should have been handled differently.

"I'm his voice, and I'm going to make sure that this doesn't happen again to anybody else," said Alan.

WJFW spoke with Smith's son on Monday. He said Smith would most likely be in the hospital for a couple more days.




Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 04/26/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to the Vilas County Courthouse for day 3 of the trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets who is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at knife point in July 2015.

The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness wants to work with landlords to help people get back on their feet. We talk to the housing program team leader about a meeting coming up in Rhinelander that will allow landlords to share information that can help the homeless find places to rent.

And we talk with The Forest County Health Department director about a program that is encouraging people to limit their time with TV, computers, iPhones and other types of screens for a week.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Rent can eat up more than half of a person's income when they earn minimum wage. That can lead to missed rent payments and even homelessness.

The Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness, or N*WISH, wants to work the landlords to keep people housed.

"This is a new initiative, I guess, to try to build landlord relationships and awareness of homelessness and people in need," said Housing Program team leader Lori Hallas.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - People with developmental disorders can hear plenty of negatives when it comes to succeeding in school. That's why a Northwoods school offers a program to help these students prove the doubters wrong.

Nicolet College offers Jump! Start, which helps people with special needs go to college and prepare for the workforce.

College student Ashley Mathy has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition listed on the autism spectrum.

As a high school senior, she was told she would never make it to college because she would fail.

"You're going to have failures. You're going to have people tell you that you can't do things all the time whether you have a disability or you don't have one. And you just have to prove them wrong because if you don't, then you'll just let failure take you away," said Mathy.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN - Turkey season began last week and hunters have a new option for what they can do with the turkeys they shoot.

The DNR started a turkey donating program this year.

You can donate turkey's to three processors in the southern half of the state.

"A little bit further south of here in areas where there's usually a lot of deer donations and a lot of turkey shot so that we can try and get some good participation for the first year," said DNR's Wildlife Biologist, Jeremy Holtz.

+ Read More

TOMAHAWK - Unless you find yourself in trouble, you don't usually sit down and talk with a cop. 

The Tomahawk Police Department held its monthly Coffee with a Cop meeting Wednesday morning.

It gives people the chance to pull up a chair and talk to Chief Al Elvins about their questions or concerns.

Those concerns change with the season. 

Warmer weather means kids will be out of school soon and there'll be more foot traffic.
 
And don't forget about those motorcycles. 

"Watch out for the motorcycles. So often they hit a blind spot on us and you don't see them. If you are driving a bike, be aware of your surroundings. Remember that four wheels don't always see your two wheels," said Chief Elvins. 

The city's drug takeback will be open all day on Saturday. The department does it twice a year.

You can bring in any over the counter or prescription drugs to the station's drop-off box.


+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like racing to fix a car's fuse box. Nicolet College in Rhinelander hosted 12 Northwoods high schools for some friendly competition with a specific goal in mind.

The competitions varied from auto skills to welding to even cupcake baking. The goal was for students to begin thinking about college.

"Getting to see the inner workings of a vehicle, getting to work and learn at the same time, it makes me think more about college and what I want to do with my future," said Crandon sophomore, Kegan Wilson.

+ Read More

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker says he hopes President Donald Trump's aggressive negotiating style will get Canadian officials to delay policy changes that will evaporate the demand for Wisconsin milk producers.

Walker said Wednesday that Trump's retaliatory move to impose tariffs on Canadian lumber was aggressive but appreciated.

Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers lost a market for their milk after Canada announced plans to change its dairy pricing policy to favor domestic milk.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here