Cleveland police reviewing handling of kidnap victim’s 911 call

Jeff Stacklin
The Lookout

Cleveland officials are investigating the handling of a call from kidnapping victim Amanda Berry to 911 on Monday.

Berry and two other women had been held captive in a Cleveland home for nearly a decade but were able to escape on Monday evening.

In a statement published on the department’s blog, Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin L. Flask acknowledged the public’s criticism of the dispatcher’s handling of the call for help from Berry. The call was released to the media on Monday, shortly after police revealed the women were found alive.

During the 911 call, Berry tells a dispatcher: “Hello, police, help me! I'm Amanda Berry … I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years, and ... I'm here, I'm free now.”

The dispatcher, after verifying Berry’s whereabouts, tells the kidnap victim to talk to the police when they arrive. The dispatcher also tells Berry, who was pleading for police to come immediately, “We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.”

And Berry responded, “No, I need them now before he [her alleged captor, Ariel Castro] gets back.”

Flask wrote that while the dispatcher followed department policies and procedures, “We have noted some concerns, which will be the focus of our review, including the call-taker’s failure to remain on the line with Ms. Berry until police arrived on scene.”

The dispatcher was not identified in the statement.

During a press conference on Tuesday, police officials said officers arrived at the home where the women were held captive within minutes of Berry’s call. When police arrived, they found Berry with her 6-year-old daughter, as well as Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Berry, 27, had been missing since April 2003, when she was 16. DeJesus, 23, had been missing since 2004, when she was 14. Knight had been missing since 2002, when she was 20, according to police.

Police commended Berry as “a real hero” for breaking away from the home, calling police, and enabling the other women to escape, too.

Three brothers—Ariel Castro, 52; Pedro Castro, 54; and Onil Castro, 50—have been arrested and are expected to be charged on Wednesday.