Smart Home Gadget Calls 911 During Domestic Dispute

A question the suspect asked prompted the device to call authorities
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2017 4:30 PM CDT
Smart Home Gadget Calls 911 During Domestic Dispute
A smart home device on display in a living room setting.   (Amazon via AP)

"Did you call the sheriffs?" An ever-listening smart home gadget recorded the suspect of a domestic assault saying those words while house-sitting with his girlfriend and her daughter. And it took them quite literally. ABC News reports that the device (the type isn't specified) contacted local authorities of an Albuquerque, NM, suburb during an altercation between Eduardo Barros and his girlfriend. A county sheriff’s spokesperson says Barros reportedly took out a gun and threatened to kill his girlfriend during the dispute. The device mistook Barros’ question for a command and alerted authorities. They were able to safely remove the girlfriend and daughter from the home, and after an hours-long standoff, took Barros into custody.

“This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation," county sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said in a statement to ABC News. Barros is being held without bond and has been charged with false imprisonment, aggravated battery and assault, and possession of a firearm by a felon. While this instance shows an unexpected upside to having smart devices record in homes, Gizmodo notes that constant monitoring still makes some feel “uneasy," not to mention some of the foibles that can occur, like accidental purchases. (A murder case potentially recorded by the suspect’s smart device opens up a whole other question: does the Amazon Echo have First Amendment rights?)

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