'Alexa, call 911': Voice-activated device credited for rescuing mother and child

A New Mexico sheriff is crediting a voice-activated device for calling 911 and rescuing a mother and child from a violent domestic dispute.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said deputies responding to the call July 2 found a woman who said she had been hit in the face with a handgun.

 

 

Authorities found Eduardo Barros barricaded in the couple's home with a gun, and a SWAT and a Crisis Negotiation Team was called.

Barros was taken into custody after a six-hour standoff, Gonzales said. He said the woman suffered injuries to her face but refused treatment. The child was unharmed.

Gonzales said Monday that smart technology in the home apparently made the 911 call. He said that, during the altercation, Eduardo asked the victim if she had called the sheriff.

"This question, based on the victim's statements, prompted a smart-home device known as Alexa to contact law enforcement," Gonzales said in a statement. "In the 911 call, the victim can be heard yelling 'Alexa, call 911.'"

Gonzalez said his office has received questions regarding the specific device used to call 911. He said that, based on the victim’s statements and 911 recording, it was assumed that Alexa technology the made the call. Amazon's Alexa, however, does not support 911 calls, Amazon spokeswoman Rachel Hass told USA TODAY.

Whatever device made the call, Barros ultimately was arrested on charges of aggravated assault against a household member, possession of a firearm by a felon, false imprisonment and other offenses.

Smart technology has been useful in fighting crime before. In December, police in Arkansas seized an Amazon Echo, which supports Alexa, from the Bentonville home of a man accused of killing someone there. It was not clear what evidence was obtained.

In New Mexico, Gonzalez said the technology played a crucial role in a life-and-death situation.

“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life," Gonzalez said. "This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation.” 

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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