I-Team: Suspected killer calls 911, asks why police are taking so long

CLEVELAND - The Fox 8 I-Team has just obtained a 911 call made by a suspected killer as he said he was strangling his roommate, and he stayed on the line long enough to question the response time of Cleveland Police.

The incident happened March 1 on West 111th. Christopher Hardy was strangled to death.

Police arrested George Rauls for murder after he called 911.

The tape shows the first thing Rauls says is, “I need a cop cause me and my boyfriend got into it. And I’m about to kill him.”

As the dispatcher asks routine questions, you hear the caller ask, “Why does this matter? “I have a belt wrapped around his neck, and I’m choking him.”

The dispatcher repeatedly tells the caller that police are on their way. But after nearly nine minutes the man asks, “OK. Why is it taking so long?”

The dispatcher responds “I don’t know where they’re coming from. Couldn’t tell you where they’re coming from.”

It actually took police a total of nearly 12 minutes to get there. The Cleveland Police union president blames short staffing. Steve Loomis told the I-Team when that call came in, police cars in that district were already on high-priority matters. So dispatchers had to wait for a car to send to the call for the murder in progress.

“They were looking for about three minutes for a car to become available. These guys got the assignment. They got there in a timely fashion. But they came from the south side of the city.”

The dispatcher also asked the caller questions such as, “You letting up on the belt?” And, “Do you hear anything coming from him like short breaths?”

In the end, Cleveland City Hall says police arrived in about 11 minutes 50 seconds. The city says the average response time for top-priority calls is about 8 minutes 30 seconds.

No telling whether the victim might be alive if police had gotten there earlier. But with a suspect calling police and then asking about response time, we had to ask too.

George Rauls has now been indicted for murder. Records show he is pleading not guilty.

An assistant safety director reviewed the tape for us. He concluded the dispatcher did a good job of handling the situation on a 12-minute phone call. The city says despite the delay in getting police there, the city found the response time within an acceptable range considering other calls at the time.