Richard Sherman’s wife’s 911 call is disturbing, in more ways than one

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Audio of the 911 call made by Richard Sherman‘s wife has been released, and it’s disturbing — both because it suggests Sherman is going through a serious struggle with mental health and alcohol abuse, and because it revealed that the 911 dispatcher showed an appalling lack of sensitivity to what Sherman’s wife was going through.

“I need officers to my house now. My husband is drunk and belligerent and threatened to kill himself,” the caller, who identified herself as Ashley Sherman, said at the beginning of the call, which was obtained by KIRO in Seattle.

Immediately, the 911 dispatcher told Ashley Sherman to stop talking, then asked her for the address and whether there were any weapons.

Ashley Sherman tried to answer and the dispatcher admonished her, “You didn’t let me finish. You need to stop interrupting.”

As Ashley Sherman attempted to convey that Richard Sherman had tried to fight her uncle, the dispatcher seemed more interested in nitpicking her choice of words.

“Trying to fight somebody and actually being physical is two different things,” the dispatcher said.

While on the phone with 911, Ashley Sherman was also shouting to Richard Sherman.

“Richard, please stop!” Ashley Sherman said repeatedly.

As Ashley Sherman pleaded with the 911 dispatcher to send help, the dispatcher seemed more concerned with Ashley’s tone than with the unfolding emergency.

“I am handling this. You need to stop telling me that,” the dispatcher said.

When someone else in the house tried to give information about how intoxicated Sherman was to 911, the dispatcher said in a condescending tone, “Sir, I only need to talk to one person.”

Sherman and his family clearly need help. And the King County Sheriff’s Office clearly needs better training for its 911 dispatchers.

59 responses to “Richard Sherman’s wife’s 911 call is disturbing, in more ways than one

  1. What good is 911 if you get someone answering like that? What’s wrong with people nowadays?

  2. Sounded like something like this from the get go. He isn’t a 22 year old losing his cool. This is troubling and I wonder if there where more warning signs before this. Hope he gets help as football should be the last thing he should be thinking about.

  3. Sounds like the Sherman family may need several specialized attorneys,one for domestic issues, one to sue 911, one for the arrest. At least the wealthy can navigate through these things relatively unscathed. Good luck to the average joe.

  4. Maybe they ought to introduce that police dog to the dispatcher. What if Sherman was approaching with a weapon while the dispatcher was worried about context and being interrupted?

  5. I know 911 dispatch is a hard job but look up Josh Powell 911 call from a few years back. It’s the next county over from where this happened. Two kids died because dispatch didn’t take the call as serious as they probably should’ve.

  6. Richard Sherman needing assistance for mental health or alcohol treatment is no laughing matter, and a cry for that help looks different for each person. Good luck to you Richard and anyone else who is struggling.

  7. Let’s blame the dispatcher? When people are at their worst, scared, calling 911, that’s all it is. We don’t need to ridicule an emergency responder for paying attention to detail.

  8. I hope Sherman gets the help he needs. As for this dispatcher, one or two weeks suspension should be good.

  9. It’s an awful, sad situation. I hope Sherman gets the help he obviously needs, and I hope the dispatcher gets disciplined for that behaviour.

  10. The 911 dispatcher should be fired immediately.. Horrendous lack of professionalism.. Dispatcher, “What’s his birthdate? Slow don I can’t understand you”.. I heard it the first time. That was blatant arrogance and used by the dispatcher belittle the caller for no other reason than to empower the dispatcher.. God awful.

  11. I hope the healing begins soon, in the Sherman household. The dispatcher showed a severe lack of professionalism, by interjecting and “steering” the caller to word it like the dispatcher wanted? What if the caller was suddenly questioning herself and stopped seeking emergency help? The dispatcher’s performance is appalling on many levels.

  12. Who are these folks voting down comments about the dispatcher should be fired???? I mean come on its obvious the dispatcher lacked no sensitivity to the situation at hand!

  13. The dispatcher did their job correctly. Calm the caller and figure out the situation. They get calls like this all day and unfortunatly that area of the country doesnt like police presence. They have a duty for both our law enforcement as well so they know how to address the situation.

  14. Talk about making a bad situation worse. The 911 dispatcher needed to de-escalate the situation.

  15. BuckyBadger says:
    July 14, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    He isn’t a 22 year old losing his cool. This is troubling and I wonder if there where more warning signs before this.


    It is troubling. And you’re right…at this stage of his life, this kind of thing definitely shouldn’t be happening.

    As for warning signs, other than a general outspokenness and a tendency to sometimes be a bit off base, there’s been absolutely nothing, right?

    I’m really surprised and disappointed.

  16. I live in Seattle and can fully attest to the rudeness of police and police dispatch. And basically all govt and state services here.

  17. If I were Ashley Moss, I would have pulled a Karen and asked to speak to the dispatcher’s manager…

  18. This person is the first person contacted in countless emergencies. To have the, STUNNINGLY lack of concern for a person who says they are being physically engaged by an attacker is ridiculous. Lots of other things about Sherman being arrested we can discuss in other moments. But this person can not stay employed at that job. How many other calls were handled in such a callous fashion? I can only imagine being in such a bad spot and having this SOB be the person I’m asking for help. Defies belief

  19. Stunningly inept and antagonistic. This was the automated attendent of 911 dispatchers, taking a bd situation and making it worse…

  20. What that dispatcher did is a de-escalation technique. Get the person who is hysterical on the other end of the phone to concentrate on giving facts and get their mind away from running away with emotion.
    It may seem callous, but it is an effective de-escalation tool that is taught to first responders.

  21. The dispatcher position is critically important, and too often seriously under paid. If you want professionalism in action you need to be willing to pay people and properly train them. This problem with 911 dispatchers is not new and it is disgraceful. Set the pay high enough to find and keep quality people so that insensitive idiots can find jobs that suit their abilities.

  22. One thing we don’t know is when dispatcher notified police. If police were dispatched right away, it becomes more reasonable to try to get the required details.

  23. The dispatcher is simply trying to get information as quickly as possible, insensitive yes but imagine all the stupid, unnessesary calls these people get ? Becoming jaded is part of the job …

  24. Although the 911 operators tone could have been a bit better, the operator did nothing wrong. In these situations they have to get control of the situation to make sure the proper help not only arrives, but has a better understanding of what they are walking into. If the operator didn’t do her job the way she did & the situation were to have turned out much worse, everyone would be screaming that she should have been more aggressive and taken control.

  25. dmca12 says:
    July 14, 2021 at 6:50 pm
    How about focusing on his behavior rather than 911 operator?


    It’s possible for both of them to be in the wrong in this situation.

  26. That dispatcher is a power mad, pedantic idiot. Made a bad situation so much worse. Mrs Sherman sounds like a strong lady. Hoping Richard gets the help he so obviously needs and the family, can begin to heal.

  27. anyone defending the dispatcher is a lost soul, firmly in the grip of beelzebub. I sincerely hope they are not in any way involved in helping others, for those they seek to help shall surely be doomed

  28. Sounds like the operator is burnt out and just has gotten to a point of being annoyed by the calls.
    I’m sure they do need to direct people to get the facts. However it sounds very under confident and childish to say things like “stop telling me that” and “You need to stop” or “I’m handling this”

  29. Seems like the dispatcher was trying to get solid information about what was happening there.

    With all the incidents with the police in the news lately, what is communicated to them beforehand can be a factor in what happens.

    The dispatcher should have been better about it, though.

  30. The unprofessional conduct of the 911 dispatcher sounds familiar to what happened with me several years ago. I was talked over, ridiculed and treated discourteously. And that situation involved a deer which was struggling in the middle of a lane of traffic after being hit – not someone trying to break into a house. I have often thought to myself, “Are the taxpayers actually paying this person?”

  31. I’ve read/heard about a disturbing amount of these 911 dispatchers being extremely rude and not very helpful. I understand it can be a lot to deal with people in stressful situations, but these people doing their job correctly can have life or death consequences. They should be trained like that is the case.

  32. I served as a 911 telecommunicator for several years. While I might have been a little nicer my tone, her conduct and words she said were well within an acceptable range. You sometimes have to be curt, direct, and cut people off to get the needed info from the caller in a timely fashion. You can’t compare it to retail customer service expectations when lives are on the line. Time matters and many 911 callers are rambling and providing unnecessary or repetitive info. Details matter. If people walked in the shoes of a 911 operator for a week, they would see this more clearly. I have great sympathy for the caller. Often, 911 callers are experiencing the worst day of their life and they are upset, confused, angry, distraught, and don’t know what info is needed from the authorities to make everyone safe.

  33. dadindebt6 says:
    July 14, 2021 at 10:14 pm
    What that dispatcher did is a de-escalation technique. Get the person who is hysterical on the other end of the phone to concentrate on giving facts and get their mind away from running away with emotion.
    It may seem callous, but it is an effective de-escalation tool that is taught to first responders.
    911 dispatchers are trained to help callers calm down enough to convey the information needed to assist them . This was not an example of that , this was an incompetent , arrogant dispatcher who came dangerously close to making a bad situation even worse by their actions . This person should be fired immediately .

  34. This is what happens when you want to defund the police. All of the good cops are quitting!

  35. I watch a lot of true crime videos and the 911 operators are frequently terrible. Rude but also frequently totally clueless. Lots of examples out there of them getting a call about a dead body and proceding to ask the caller if they could put the dead person on the phone.

  36. Now hold on everyone, calm down. 911 dispatcher is a seriously stressful job. I don’t think this person did a good job, but I don’t think he/she should lose their job over one call. It doesn’t need to go from zero to 100 like that.

    I’ve worked in pubic service and government jobs at various times and I worked with the occasional person who completely lacked empathy for those we were trying to help. However the vast majority of people just do their best to keep it together under relentless, stressful conditions that are often exacerbated by authoritarian management that is usually entirely tone-deaf to morale issues.

  37. The 911 operator was ridiculous…. That being said, let’s keep the focus on the crime and the criminal and not focus on a side note

  38. From the article- “to stop talking, then asked her for the address and whether there were any weapons.”- ?? What the hell is wrong with that? Those would be the questions I’d ask.

    ““Trying to fight somebody and actually being physical is two different things,” the dispatcher said.” Very true! Is it a fight or folks just bellying up to each other?

    ” “Sir, I only need to talk to one person.”- ever try to listen to one person when there’s more than one talking?

    The dispatcher is a trained sub-LEO. She NEEDS to take charge and ask the correct questions and disperse with the smaller details. It’s an emergency and thus certain details MUST be provided, i.e address, weapons etc . JUST like the police when they give you an order, shut up, listen and answer her questions. Time and lives are on the line

  39. Thank you for this article.

    Unprofessionalism should never get a pass, even for first responders.

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