Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Family seeks answers after a 911 call leads to confusionSubmitted: 04/10/2017
Dakota Sherek
Dakota Sherek
Reporter/Anchor
dsherek@wjfw.com

Family seeks answers after a 911 call leads to confusion
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

MERRILL - When you live to be 100, you often often outlive your friends and even family members.

Lenore Ehlert, from Merrill, turned 100 years old on Wednesday.

"Well, actually, it doesn't feel much different, it's just another day," said Ehlert.

While celebrating that milestone, she found herself thinking of her husband who she lost 65 years ago.

Her husband, Merrill Police Captain, Elmer Krueger was shot and killed while on duty in July of 1952.

"July 19th and he died about three days later," said Ehlert.

Records from that time show an officer's death didn't lead to weeks of ceremonies and salutes like it does now.

"After the funeral, everything was just kind of forgotten," said Ehlert.

But decades later, it's not all forgotten. Merrill police officers, members of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and other first responders were all at the party to show that they were bonded for life after the tragedy years ago.

"It really is truly, that Lenore is part of our family," said Michael Caylor with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to law enforcement, Governor Scott Walker, Congressman Sean Duffy and Attorney General Brad Schimel all wrote Lenore letters wishing her a happy birthday.

"It's quite an honor and I know part of it is for my husband and his memory," said Ehlert.

Elmer's memory was seen all throughout Lenore's special day.

"Know that you're part of the law enforcement family. Elmer was a brother, most of us didn't know him, but he's a brother nonetheless," said Lincoln County Sheriff, Jeff Jaeger.

She was surrounded by friends and family helping her celebrate her 100 years.

"If we're all to live as old and to be as loved as yourself, what a wonderful world this is going to be," said Caylor.

When asked for advice on how to live to be 100, Lenore said to keep your mind and body active, and to eat good food.

+ Read More

MADISON - MADISON, Wis. (AP) - " The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's request to provide federal low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses affected by flooding.

The SBA will provide loans for up to $200,000 for damaged homes, $40,000 for damaged property, and $2 million to businesses for physical damage and economic loss because of flooding.

+ Read More

MERRILL - A $5 million facility that just opened in Merrill hopes to give people a place to learn more about heavy equipment and technology.

On Friday, Nortrax, a division of John Deere, celebrated the grand opening of a facility. Dozens of community members and officials were at the ribbon cutting.The process to open up the location on South Pine Ridge started a few years ago.

+ Read More

TRIPOLI - The Tripoli Log Church celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. Most people say it's one of the oldest buildings in that community.

On Saturday, many people who grew up going to the church went back to celebrate its history.

"At four years old I started coming to Sunday school," said Elise Marheine who grew up going to the church.

"I was baptized here and I've been here just about ever since," said Skip Rice, who also grew up attending The Log Church.

+ Read More

Play Video

NEWBOLD - Hundreds of people took time to visit the Newbold Fire Department Saturday for their annual picnic fundraiser.

The event featured plenty of food, raffles, face painting, and live music. This was the 49th year for the event.

+ Read More

MOUNT PLEASANT - MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. (AP) " A community in southeastern Wisconsin is planning ahead in case it becomes the site for a major Foxconn facility.

The Journal Times reports that Mount Pleasant officials are planning to create the position of project director to handle business related to the project.

+ Read More

WOOD COUNTY - A man died after a motorcycle crash on State Highway 54 East of School Lane in Wood County.

The crash happened around 4:41 p.m. Saturday in the Town of Cranmoor.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here