An Atlanta restaurant employee who was shot while witnessing a crime was put on hold when he called Atlanta 911.
“Please hold,” said the Atlanta 911 recording after a restaurant employee stepped outside for a break and witnessed two men trying to break into a car. Upon noticing the employee, the two thieves turned and shot at him, striking him in the arm.
The two thieves got away with the car while the employee tried repeatedly to get 911, being put on hold in every attempt he made.
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Eventually, a restaurant co-worker called an off-duty officer she knows. That officer used his radio to get in contact with the communications center to explain the situation.
Not wanting to wait any longer for first responders, co-workers drove the injured employee to the hospital themselves.
“We have researched this incident and have not been able to locate a call placed by the victim,” an Atlanta Police Department spokesperson told Fox News. “We are aware a female employee of the business called 911 and her call was answered by a call taker.”
The incident follows another from earlier in September when a motorist who thought they were being followed in a road-rage incident received the same “hold please” recording when attempting to dial 911.
The man said he initially thought that he would only be on hold for a few minutes, but that view turned out to be optimistic.
“But it kept repeating,” the man said. “They kept putting me on hold.”
The spokesperson also addressed the issue of hold times for 911 callers, saying that the department is “well aware improvements to the 911 Center have been needed.”
“Like most 911 Centers, there are times where we will experience an influx of calls, leading to some callers being placed on hold for the next call taker. If a caller is placed on hold, hangs up and calls back repeatedly, they will continue to be placed in line with the other callers in the order their call was received. It is critical callers remain on the line and not hang up to ensure their call is answered as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
Atlanta’s police department has faced repeated controversy over the last year, most notably when its officers fatally shot Rayshard Brooks less than three weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
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Mass protests and calls to defund the police followed both incidents, causing a clash between activists and the city council.
Reports soon surfaced that Atlanta police officers were calling in sick at unusually high numbers last summer, while other officers were declining to not to respond to calls in three of the city’s six police districts.