DirecTV Installer Jokes That He's "Being Held Hostage," Dispatch Sends SWAT Team

Julie Pyle’s DirecTV installation was taking so long she decided to bake cookies for the installers. Sadly for Julie, the installation would not end with snack time. Julie was led at gunpoint out of her Savage, Minnesota home, ordered to the ground and handcuffed. Why? Her DirecTV installer had joked to his dispatcher that they were being “held hostage until they were done.”

The dispatcher heard, “gun,” not “done,” and called 911. From the Savage Pacer (emphasis ours):

Information contained in court documents indicates that a Scott County dispatcher spoke directly with one of the technicians prior to police arriving at Pyle’s home and the man said, “We are not being held hostage by the customer, we were held, being held hostage by DirecTV.” The other installer told the police dispatcher, “I think there’s a major misconstrued statement going right now. Maybe they heard in the background the statement quote unquote to my manager that I am stuck [here].”

In a statement issued shortly after the incident occurred, a representative of DirecTV stated the company’s first priority is the safety of its customers and its employees. “We take threats very seriously and have trained our customer service team on how to respond to emergency situations … We sincerely apologize for any embarrassment or other duress that the customer and installers experienced as a result of this incident.”

The Pyles are suing DirecTV. Can you blame them? —MEGHANN MARCO

DirecTV ‘hostage’ case filed in federal court [Savage Pacer] (Thanks, Mike!)
(Photo: Meghann Marco)

Comments

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  1. Ray Wert Jr says:

    Yeah, yeah I can.

    It was a mistake, nobody was hurt. It’s actually rather laughable.

    I mean, it takes place in Savage, MN.

    Two words that don’t belong in the same sentence, let alone with cookies and TV.

    Yea, it’s traumatic. But if you’re that week minded that you can’t handle getting “arrested” then maybe you should go see a therapist or something.

    I was at work and we had an issue with one of the servers going down. My boss was one the phone with me trying to resolve the issue, it took three hours. Why? Cause I miss heard t for p, and I still have a job. It’s a simple misunderstanding.

  2. superlayne says:

    She was held at gun point after being polite and making cookies. Not to mention the search the SWAT team probably made of her house.

    No, I cannot blame her.

  3. 0x12is18 says:

    I think it is ridiculous for suing someone for trying to do the right thing. And we wonder why so many people are apathetic and not likely to step in even when they see someone being attacked in broad daylight. Sue the Good Samaritan. This is precisely why I am not likely to jump in and help anyone in trouble.

  4. AcidReign says:

    …..That’s messed up. How can anyone get busted when that “fresh cookie” smell is in the air? Tip: offer SWAT some next time they break your door down!

  5. notebook says:

    Hey, at least they apologized about it.

  6. homerjay says:

    IDT would have just left their rep for dead….

  7. Lordstrom says:

    It was unprofessional and reckless. Not only did they traumatize the poor woman, but they wasted the resources of a police force. Sue the pants off them.

  8. 0x12is18 says:

    @lorddave: I guess from now on, no police, firemen, or medics should be dispatched until they can triple-verify an emergency. That should make people happy.

  9. scoobydoo says:

    I’m normally against frivolous lawsuits, but since this is DirecTV I will make an exception :)

  10. Lordstrom says:

    @nwogoldberg99: Huh? I don’t think you understood my post or what this story is about. Try again.

  11. erock0 says:

    not the police’s fault at all. directv’s installer, though kidding, is as fault for this. this can be likened to pizza delivery drivers that get executed for no good reason. @everyone that thinks this isn’t traumatic: have you EVER had a gun pointed at you? let alone pointed at you after you made a batch of oatmeal raisin? she will probably need a lot of help to trust police from now on and when you can’t trust them it’s kind of scary.

  12. bokononist says:

    No, the dispatcher should have asked ONE QUESTION (‘you’re being held hostage?’) and made sure that he got some kind of response. Apparently the dispatched couldn’t do that. DirecTV does deserve to be sued for this… getting held at gunpoint is NOT a gentle experience.

    If you’ve never been held at gunpoint before STFU. You have no business saying it’s not a problem until it’s happened to you.

  13. Smashville says:

    What idiot dispatcher thinks “we are being held hostage until we are done” sounds like “We are being held hostage until we are gun.”

    And how does that even make sense? I am gun. You are gun. We are gun.

  14. enm4r says:

    @erock0: @bokononist: Yes, I’ve been held at gunpoint on two separate occasions. One involved the police pulling me over, after having mixed up two digits in my license plate. Having police officers yell and scream at you, etc, while you are trying to understand and cooperate isn’t a fun experience, and I wouldn’t with it upon anyone who didn’t deserve it. But did it induce some life long trauma and distrust? Absolutely not. They were doing their job and they made a mistake. I wasn’t physically hurt, so that was the end of it. By all means if she was physically hurt in this case she should pursue legal recourse.

    I also disagree with both of you who claim that “if you have never ______ then you have no right to talk.” That’s ridiculous. I guess fortunately for me I’ve had a gun pulled twice, so my opinion is twice that of anyone who’s only had it done once. Give me a break.

  15. Imhotep says:

    Fire the dispatcher for having a “Boston” moment, then give the poor woman free tv for life. Done. and Done.

    Of course, the woman probably is on a terrorist watch list now, so she’s safe so long as she doesn’t tune into Al-jezeera. God bless America.

  16. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    The Pyles should skip the lawsuit. Just ask for free lifetime service with all the premium channels.

  17. Bourque77 says:

    If you hire someone stupid enough to joke about being held hostage you deserve to be sued. You done joke around about guns in airports or yell fire in crowded places. This is no different than those situations. Only a lot less people were affected. I dont know that I would sue the company but the idiots making the jokes, oh yes.

  18. YodaYid says:

    From the article:

    The lawsuit claims that police were aware there was not a hostage situation involving a gun before Pyle was called by a Scott County dispatcher and asked to come outside and talk to police. Yet, the lawsuit alleges, officers ordered her to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed and interrogated her.

    If the Pyles are telling the truth, then the police are very much at fault here – more so than DirecTV.

  19. Corvus13 says:

    “Hello, DirecTV corporate? This is Minnesota dispatch. We’re being held liable until we’re not dumb…”

  20. timmus says:

    I can understand when a phone representative might think the other party is under duress, but this whole thing stinks^h^h^h^h^h^h reeks of some droids doing everything “by the book”.

  21. faust1200 says:

    Well if the DirecTV dispatcher loses her job I’m sure she could find instant work with Boston emergency (or is it?) services.

  22. sled_dog says:

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  23. palaste says:

    @Smashville: Also, is saying “gun” really enough to get a SWAT team strike nowadays?

  24. ExecutorElassus says:

    Really, the issue here isn’t that there was a misunderstood phoneme; the serious issue (that I think IS lawsuit-worthy) is that the installers told dispatch and told the police that there was no hostage situation, and the SWAT team cuffed her at gunpoint ANYWAY. The article makes clear that virtually everyone was aware that there was no hostage situation, and yet the cops went ahead with the bust.
    That’s not a misunderstanding; that’s willful aggression.

  25. Wormfather says:

    Unless you’ve ever seen a swat team in action you cant really blame her, these dudes are highly trained and sit aroun for 89 out of every 90 days. They come in hot and kick shit, break shit and make really scarry threats and noises.

    Hell yeah, cover your P’s and Q’s dispatch.

  26. JustThisGuy says:

    @Wormfather: actually, I’m fairly certain that most, if not all, SWAT team members also double as regular officer-types.

    Otherwise: there was a distinct lack of common sense on the part of both the dispatcher and the police involved. “Willfull aggression,” indeed.

  27. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    What? You people don’t really think the police are here to protect & serve do you? I wouldn’t trust my nephews with *any* of the people I know in law enforcement.

  28. Peeved Guy says:

    For those of you that are laying the blame on the police… Do you really think that defusing a possible/suspected hostage situation would be as simple a sending one of the hostages out to the cops and saying “Never mind!”? Really? If that were the case, then from now on, all hostage takers would have to do is simply take two hostages, and send Hostage A out to send the police away with a threat of death hanging over the Hostage B. That would make bank robberies a smidge easier, I would think.

    The police did what they had to do to ensure there was no threat to the installers. I personally believe the problem was with the DirectTV dispatcher. As was mentioned before, there should have been a clarifying question (or questions) before the dogs were loosed.

  29. othium says:

    It’s interesting to see this website advertising “SWAT Supervision and Management
    Patrol Operations and Tactical Responses” in Savage, Minnesota. Some of the things covered are:

    “…this program focuses on responding to special threat incidents, such as violent barricade/hostage situations, and providing recommended responses and tactical solutions that result in a professional resolution. It also emphasizes criteria for selecting personnel; forestalling civil liability issues; maintaining personnel;…”

    Maybe some refresher training would be good for the team that ran that particular mission.

    http://www.theiacp.org/Training/Courses/index.cfm?action=v

  30. Well, they do hold you hostage to your contract. But, aye, this made me crack up.

  31. 0x12is18 says:

    @Peeved Guy: You put it perfectly. If anyone is at fault, it is DirecTV.

  32. Smashville says:

    We’re being held hostage by Wal Mart’s unbeatable low prices! And the RIAA’s uncanny reasoning and logic and ethics!

    GUN!

  33. ihatemylife says:

    I say sue, did the police act reasonable… dunno, but the way the police act (or overreact) can have a lasting effect..

    I was pulled over in Greenfield Massachusetts for a burned out tail light and what happened next became a terrorist incident:

    I was pulled out of the car by one officer, the other had his gun drawn, I was told I was on the “suspected terrorist” list more police cars and police with guns drawn came, I was questioned about my ethnic bachground, what country I was from etc… (I’m Jewish and was born in the USA)

    It had a lasting effect… so don’t suppose that having a gun drawn or being handcuffed or whatever is no big deal…

    Sue direct tv….

    BTW: the reason I was a “suspected terrorist” was because my name was similar to a suspected terrorist… I have a very common name so… anyway sorry for the rant but when poeple say its no big deal to have a gun drawn it makes me mad..