Assault witness ‘deeply disturbed’ by 911 dispatch response

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An emergency dispatcher told a man who called 911 he couldn't report an attack on behalf of the victim

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man who witnessed an unprovoked attack on another man in Southwest Portland said he had to beg a dispatcher to send help.

The attack happened late on the night of Aug. 31 across from the Hotel Rose on Southwest 1st Avenue and Southwest Morrison Street.

Gary Granger told KOIN 6 News he witnessed a group of teens taunt and physically assault the man.

Gary Granger witnessed an attack on a homeless man at SW 1st and Morrison, Aug. 31, 2019. (Courtesy of Gary Granger)

“They knocked him to the ground, they kicked him, they punched him,” Granger said. “One stood by and watched and the other 2 beat the man.”

Granger called 911 twice to report the attack.

KOIN 6 News obtained the audio recordings of those calls through the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications:

Granger: “I just witnessed 4 people attack someone in the street. They are walking around the street and they are going to attack somebody else.”

Dispatcher: “Officers will contact you if the victim calls in, that’s how this works, sir, okay?”

Granger: “The victim is not going to call in because the victim is a homeless person.”

Dispatcher: “You can’t make a report on his behalf.”

Listen to the second 911 call:

911 call by Gary Granger recorded by BOEC

Granger, who has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement as a veteran and director of community safety, was shocked by the dispatcher’s response.

“I’m incredulous that I would have gotten that response, ‘Well, the victim hasn’t called’ — that is patently absurd to me,” he said. “The information I was given was inaccurate, saying you can’t report the crime is wrong and I’m deeply disturbed.”

Gary Granger said he’s upset with the 911 dispatcher’s response when he reported an assault, Sept. 25, 2019. (KOIN)

Dan Douthit from Portland Bureau of Emergency Management said Granger is right.

“There was communication made with the Portland Police Bureau based on that first call. The way in which it was done did not align with our bureau’s policies,” Douthit said.

He said the call was mis-prioritized. An internal investigation led to mandatory training for the dispatcher but no further action.

“Anytime something like this is brought to our attention, we are able to look at it, examine it and look at what worked and what didn’t work and then, if we need to make overall policy changes, we will,” Douthit said.

Gary Granger witnessed an attack on a homeless man at SW 1st and Morrison, Aug. 31, 2019. (Courtesy of Gary Granger)

Granger said officers arrived about 20 minutes after he called 911 but told him they couldn’t pursue a case. The victim and the teens had already left the area.

The Portland Police Bureau told KOIN 6 News a victim has not come forward and no suspects have been identified.

“It is possible to proceed with some cases depending upon the circumstances without a victim if suspects are identified. For many crimes, it is critical for us to get the victim’s statement and participation,” said PPB Public Information Officer Tina Jones.

Jones also urged members of the public who see a crime in progress to call 911.

“I won’t be satisfied until someone looks into why this happened,” Granger said. “Is it systemic, is it a person, is it training, is it cultural — and then do something about that. That’s part one. Part two is the police lack of response.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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