Austin-Silva 911 tape released

Three weeks after Richard Silva and Blair Austin were acquitted of charges relating to their September 29 encounter with a Charlottesville police officer in a downtown crosswalk, a 911 call made by a witness has been released.

The call was initially withheld because it was part of both the ongoing case against Silva and Austin (pictured right with her attorney David Heilberg) and also the internal police investigation into Flaherty's behavior that night. Silva and Austin were both cleared of public intoxication charges on November 29 in Charlottesville District Court. Austin was also cleared of a second charge for obstructing justice, though Judge Bob Downer suggested he believed Flaherty's account.

Does the release of the tape mean the internal investigation has also concluded? Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo did not immediately return the Hook's call.

6 comments

What do you want the dispatcher to do, call the FBI on the spot? Face it, you have cops already on the scene. Calling 911 is good to establish a record, but now to villainize the operator is so off the point. Whoever made that call to 911 did a pretty good job, maybe he's a law student. Asking to notify the the police chief or whoever is the highest ranking officer on duty would have been interesting. But no way the dispatcher is going to mention that for you. I've heard much much much worse 911 tapes in the media.

How about the woman who called 911 from the UVa hospital emergency room to say there was a woman on the floor dying and the staff were stepping over her? That operator was actually hostile as I recall it.

Also they use a bit of hostility to challenge the caller and that way get the info more quickly. I think I've read that. So my conclusion: the 911 operator should not have been so nice about it!

Music Lover, I am in complete agreement.

I also concur with Music Lover, and in my opinion the dispatcher should have said that he was going to notify a supervisor. Luckily in Charlottesville I doubt this is the normal 911 call and I suspect that the dispatcher was simply caught off guard by the call.

To me it's kinda obvious the dispatcher didn't want to deal with this call. The entire time he was probably thinking to himself that he wished somebody else had answered the phone. But anyhow, it reinforces what I have said all along.... when a cop does wrong, who the hell is going to do anything about it? The answer is NOBODY! Other than a sacrificial lamb being served up to the public once in a long while when the nature of the offense leaks out and can't be swept under the carpet.

Oh. My. God. Do they not train the 911 operators in Charlottesville? That dispatcher sounded absolutely lost with no idea what to do. I can't believe there isn't a standard "I'll contact the shift commander immediately - thank you for calling" response. I mean, how often does something like this happen? Doesn't it seem like it should be something deserving of immediate response?

Golfer, believe it or not, this is a normal call. Officers get immediate complaints all the time. In this case the caller was clearly complaining that a cop was manhandling and beating up pedestrians. This was the nature of the call from the very beginning, from the caller's first sentence. When a caller says a cop is beating up civilians the dispatcher should have forwarded the call straight to the shift supervisor's car without delay. That's what they have cell phones in all their cars for. But he went on to put them on hold, play 13 questions, and a few seconds later he puts the caller on hold again to dispatch a rescue squad. Very strange dispatcher.