911 operator faces charges after admitting to hanging up on callers

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - A Houston couple says they were victims of a former Houston Emergency Center 911 operator who has allegedly confessed to hanging up on callers seeking emergency help because “she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.”

The former emergency operator, Crenshanda Williams, 43, is charged with two counts of interference with an emergency telephone call, a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine for each count upon conviction.

Buster Pendley says Williams hung up on him in the early morning hours of March 1 when his wife collapsed and lost consciousness after a blood clot moved to her lungs.

“She was gasping and I could feel her heart beating out of her chest, but I couldn’t get a pulse,” Pendley said.

Pendley said he attempted to perform CPR on his wife with one hand while calling 911 with the other.

“The 911 operator answered the phone, and she said, 'This is Crenshanda, may I help you?‘ Wife’s passed out I need an ambulance,” Pendley said. “She said OK, and she hangs up on me.”

An ambulance finally arrived after a second call…and Pendley’s wife survived. But Sharon Stephens says thinking about it still makes her mad.

“I was furious cause he didn’t tell me what happened, cause I would have, I mean I would have gotten from my hospital bed and gone to 911 and find out who did that to me.”

According to charging documents, managers at the emergency center determined that Williams had been involved in thousands of “short calls,” a term used to describe 911 calls that last 20 seconds or less, between October 2015 and March 2016.

In one case, Williams allegedly hung up on Hua Li, an engineer who called to report a robbery in progress on March 12. Li said he had been buying lottery tickets at a RaceWay convenience store on FM 1960 West at Mills Road, when a gunman entered and tried to force his way through the door of a glassed-in security area behind the counter. As two clerks attempted to block the door, Li says he ran from the store and heard several gunshots on his way out. When he got to his car, he called 911 for help.

“They just said, ‘This is 911. How can I help you?’ I was trying to finish my sentence, and we got disconnected,” Li said.

Police said that Williams was the 911 operator, and that she terminated the call within a few seconds.

Li called a second time and got a different operator. By the time police arrived, however, the store manager had been shot and killed.

Li told Channel 2 News that if 911 is not there for you, “Nobody, nobody is going to help you. You’re on your own.”

In another incident, on March 13, a security guard called 911 to report two motorists driving recklessly at high speed as they raced each other on I-45 South. Again, police say, Williams was the 911 operator. The call was terminated before the guard could fully state his name.

In describing a recording of the call, investigators say Williams remained on the line after terminating the call and can be heard to say, “Ain’t nobody got time for this. For real.”

According to police, when Williams was questioned about the incidents in June 2016, she told them, “... that she often hangs up on calls that have not been connected because she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.”

Williams no longer works for the Houston Emergency Center. She’s scheduled to appear in court next week.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2