911 Operator Convicted (Detroit, MI)

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Sep 20, 2006
This is a follow-up on the original article we discussed here a few months ago.

911 operator convicted of not helping boy sentenced to probation

Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A 911 operator convicted of neglect of duty for failing to send help to a 5-year-old boy when he called to say his mother was dying was sentenced today to one year probation and 100 hours of community service.

Sharon Nichols, 43, had thought Robert Turner's call on Feb. 20, 2006 was a prank. But, police discovered the body of his mother, Sherill Turner, 46, dead from an apparent heart attack when a second 911 operator took a second call from the boy three hours later, then sent the officer to chastise the boy.

"The sentence was fair," said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lora Weingarden, who made no request for jail time for the misdemeanor crime. "Some members of the community probably wanted her to go to jail for up to a year. But, Ms. Nichols was fired from her job, and when she is not serving as a 911 operator, she's not a problem."

Robert Turner, now 7 and living with an older sister in Adrian, had testified at the trial that Nichols had hung up on him. The boy and his family didn't attend Tuesday's sentencing.

Nichols was convicted by a 36th District Court jury on Jan. 18. She was sentenced on Tuesday by Judge Paula G. Humphries to a year of non-reporting probation, $450 in fines and court costs and 15 days or 100 hours of community service.

Nichols had testified during her trial, putting blame for the incident on faulty equipment which she and others dispatchers have said makes it difficult to hear and understand callers.

Nichols made no statement in court Tuesday. She and her lawyer Wright Blake both declined to comment when they left the courthouse through a back stairway.

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