Police detain uninvolved neighbor before arresting woman who allegedly made false 911 call

Staff report

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Karen Lea Smyder, 65, was arrested and charged with making a false 911 call last night after Gainesville Police Department officers mistakenly detained an uninvolved neighbor while Smyder was on a 13-minute 911 call from her house, claiming someone was going to kill her.

At about 10:20 p.m. last night, Smyder allegedly called 911 and said she was being held down against her will and “he was going to kill me.” During the 13-minute phone call, she allegedly continued to say, “He is going to kill me! Get away from me. Stop – he is going to kill me.”

About 10 Gainesville Police Department officers, a fire truck, and an ambulance responded with lights and sirens to her home in the Springtree neighborhood.

Smyder reportedly did not give her address to the 911 operator, so officers pinged her phone to determine her location and incorrectly determined that it came from a house next door to Smyder’s house. The occupant of that house was reportedly uncooperative, and officers ultimately used force to detain him. Officers later determined that the neighbor was not involved in the incident.

When officers made contact with Smyder, she was reportedly still on the phone with the 911 call-taker and initially refused to hang up and speak with officers.

Post Miranda, Smyder reportedly admitted calling 911 and also that she was home alone and nobody had threatened her. She reportedly said she called 911 based on events that happened in the past.

On the way to the jail, Smyder allegedly threatened to harm or kill multiple officers, making statements like “You’re all dead,” “My brother is going to hurt you,” “I’ll kick you,” and “I’ll get you.”

Smyder has been charged with making a false 911 call and threatening a public servant. She has no criminal history; Judge Susan Miller-Jones set bail at $100,000.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

  • Thank God, no one was hurt or killed by this idiot woman’s action. This is the type of situation where innocent people can get seriously hurt by swatting or making fake call. Law enforcement did everything that technology allowed in trying to pinpoint a location. It sounds that thus woman has some mental issues but until that is determined she is exactly where she needs to be in jail.

  • This is just a case of a lonely old lady who had way too much wine on New Year’s. Make her spend a night in jail and now let her go back home. And if not this case needs to be transferred to Meridian not the jail.

    • She could have easily caused someone to be seriously injured or killed by the responding officers, she needs MUCH more than a slap on the wrist!

  • My ex-wife used to call the cops repeatedly, without reason (she was a bipolar paranoid schizophrenic who refused to take her medications). Thank goodness for the professionalism of the responding GPD officers or I would have been falsely arrested many times. It was VERY stressful, thank goodness that nightmare is over! 😫 🙏

  • Somebody was hitting the boxed wine too hard. And yes, this is a very serious crime. I’m glad no one was hurt.

    • “BUT”, somebody was hurt! GPD went to the wrong house & according to neighbors, the person was beat-up & harmed by the officers. Hopefully he has a good attorney!!!!

  • Textbook example of the fake victimization everywhere these days. Some people WANT to be victims sometimes, and even start non-profit NGOs seeking govt grants, etc. Our leafy subdivisions are full of admins who depend on gullible taxpayers for their livings. Fact.

  • I think the story should be about the neighbor who was abused by the police, and not so much about the person undergoing psychological issues. Why, Chronicle, is there no story about the person who had force used on them by the police due to a misidentification, or false location. Or why there was a false location? Was it because her phone service defaulted to using Wi-Fi signals instead of cell service and thus misidentifying her location? There’s more to the story than just “woman drunk dials 911.”

  • It’s amazing the caliber of people who manage to not get institutionalized. We have Baker/Marchman Acts for these. Seems they only get used when UF can get a piece of that sweet insurance money.

  • Side note the guy who had cops barge in and use force with 1) no warrant 2) no PC to enter the house 3) no RS to believe the man was the callers “attacker” … should boss up on a lawyer STAT and throw me a six pack for this solid advice

    • If the responding officers, as a result of the cellphone “ping” of the caller, believed that someone was in danger of imminent bodily harm, then this would be an exception to the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement. Obviously though, I don’t know all the facts 🤷

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