Wednesday, October 13, 2010
9-11 call - backfires because of open laptop.
by Courtney Zubowski / 11 News
Posted on October 12, 2010 at 11:37 PM
Updated today at 9:54 AM
HOUSTON -- A woman who called 911 to anonymously report a crime says she’s in fear for her life after the man she turned in called her just minutes after she placed the call.
According to the woman, who does not want to be identified, on Oct. 1, she was driving near Beltway 8 and Veterans Memorial Drive when she witnessed a man in the car next to her beating his passenger. She did not know either one of them.
“I saw him hitting her and he was taking his fist and he was just hitting her, aside her, just hitting her and I’m like this is crazy,” said the woman.
She placed the 911 call at 1:28 p.m. and thought that would be the end of her involvement, but 30 minutes later she learned it was just the beginning.
“About 1:54 p.m. my phone rang back and it was the suspect,” she said. “He was asking me ‘Who was this, who is this’ and I am like, ‘Who is this, you called my number,’ and then he hung up."
After that call came another, and this time it was a woman’s voice, she said.
“She called me just as he hung up and it was like, ‘Ma’am, are you the concerned lady that called about my welfare,’ and I am like,
‘Excuse me,’ and she said, ‘Well I’m OK,’ and I said, ‘Excuse me,’” said the woman.
She received another call the next morning from the Harris County Jail where the suspect was in custody. He was arrested for outstanding warrants, but never charged with assault.
“My phone rings again and it says, ‘You have a call from Harris County processing jail,’ and I immediately hung up,” she said.
“I will never, ever get involved with anything else again, not when it comes to me being fearful of the surroundings in my life.”
A spokesperson for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office says as far as she knows, this is the first time something like this has happened in their department.
HCSO spokesperson Christina Garza said the suspect was put in the back of a Harris County patrol car while the deputy talked to the woman he was accused of hitting. It was then he was able to read the woman’s phone number off of a laptop computer the deputy had left open in the front seat.
“It’s a very unique situation,” Garza said. “It’s never happened and we certainly don’t want this to discourage her, or anybody, from reporting crime to authorities.”
Garza said it’s common practice to keep laptops closed, but it’s not policy. In some situations, deputies are forced to rush out of cars quickly.
”If anyone is to blame in this situation, it’s the suspect who violated such important information and took it upon himself to do this,” said Garza.
Garza said the department is sending out e-mails to all deputies to remind them to keep their laptops closed.
The suspect is not facing charges for memorizing the information, or calling the woman. Garza said there is no proof that he ever threatened the woman.
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The 911 caller disagrees.
“I was threatened,” she said. “I was threatened when he received my information. My information should have been protected. I was threatened at that point, so what point of threat do they not understand?