- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The family of a 37-year-old woman who suffered a massive stroke last week said Prince George’s County police refused to enter the woman’s home despite numerous calls — delaying the discovery of the comatose woman for more than three hours.

Army 1st Sgt. Aaron Green, who is stationed in Georgia, said he telephoned police repeatedly on Oct. 21 to persuade them to enter the Landover town house of Crystal Sawyer, his child’s mother, after he was unable to contact the woman throughout the day.

Miss Sawyer gave birth to a son by Caesarean section 12 days earlier. The two were found side by side in her bed.

Miss Sawyer was taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where she underwent brain surgery. She remains in critical condition. The child was treated for dehydration and released to relatives.

Sgt. Green said doctors told him Miss Sawyer, who had no prior health problems, would have died in two more hours if she had not been treated.

“I’m not saying the police could have prevented this,” Sgt. Green said, “but if they had gotten into the house two hours earlier, maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was.”

Sgt. Green, who was transferred from the Army Research Lab in Adelphi to Georgia’s Fort McPherson in July, said he first called police at about 6:30 p.m. He said police called him back about 45 minutes later to say they had checked the house, the lights were off and the house was secure.

He said police were unable to tell him whether Miss Sawyer’s car was parked outside — a sure sign of whether she was inside.

Sgt. Green said he called Miss Sawyer’s sister, Candice Gould, who lives in New York, and Mrs. Gould’s daughter, a student at Howard University, to notify them that he couldn’t get in contact with Miss Sawyer.

He said all three of them called police, telling them something was wrong.

“You’ve got three individuals in three different places calling the police and telling them there’s a problem,” he said. “It took approximately three hours. To me that’s ridiculous.”

Prince George’s County police Maj. Darrin Palmer, commander of the 3rd Police District, called the situation “regrettable,” but he said police response was “absolutely correct.”

Maj. Palmer said the first call police received was about 9 p.m. He said officers responded promptly but found no evidence of a problem.

“There was no indication the mother was in bad health, there was no indication of disarray or forced entry to indicate a crime occurred,” he said.

Mrs. Gould, 44, complained yesterday about the way police treated her when she called asking them to enter the house. She said police asked her why her daughter couldn’t come out from the District to check on Miss Sawyer. She said during another call, police asked her whether they could call her back collect.

Sgt. Green said he finally called the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in Landover, and firefighters entered the home. Firefighters found Miss Sawyer, who lives alone with her child, comatose on her bed.

Maj. Palmer said perhaps the firefighters had been given more information that made entering the home more necessary.

Mrs. Gould said she would have been willing to fax a statement accepting responsibility for breaking into the house, and that she would like police to examine their policies in the event a similar situation were to arise.

Maj. Palmer said Mrs. Gould couldn’t give police that authority because she had no standing at the address. He said 3rd District police handle about 200 calls per month like the calls about Miss Sawyer. He said police “can’t make it a general practice” to break down doors based on one or two people.”

“I’m just grateful she’s alive,” Mrs. Gould said. “It’s by no means because of the assistance of the police.”

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