A man accused of hitting his domestic partner in the face with a handgun called 911 on himself via Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant when he demanded of the woman, “Did you call the sheriff?”
At least that’s what police said — Amazon later told a news outlet that Alexa can’t call 911.
The victim, her boyfriend and her child were house-sitting at her parents’ New Mexico home drinking wine when her phone emitted a text message alert, causing the man to “erupt in anger,” according to an arrest warrant released by police. Eduardo Barros, 28, allegedly swore at the woman, accused her of infidelity and threatened to kill her if she called police, the warrant said.
At some point in the altercation, Barros reportedly made a 21st-century mistake: “Did you call the sheriff?” he demanded of the woman, police said July 10.
Alexa, police said, was listening, and interpreted Barros’ question as a command to call the cops. So Alexa called 911, police claimed.
The domestic assault continued while police were en route, with Barros striking his girlfriend in the face with her 9mm pistol, according to the warrant. He renewed his attack when he saw that 911 had called the woman’s phone, throwing her down and kicking her “at least 10 times in the face and stomach,” police alleged.
Barros, reportedly a felon, told her he wasn’t going back to prison, and showed his determination to avoid that fate — he holed up inside the home, in Tijeras, New Mexico for six hours as a SWAT team surrounded it, police said. A police dog was eventually used to take him down.
The child was unharmed; the woman received facial injuries but declined medical attention, according to police.
Although police said Barros had triggered the 911 call with his question about calling the sheriff, the woman could be heard during the 911 call screaming “Alexa, call 911!” according to police.
“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life,” Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said in a press release. “This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation.”
It appears the finer points of the amazing technology were lost on the sheriff’s detective who filed the warrant, describing himself as the affiant.
“Alexis which Affiant knows to be a Google Smart Radio, heard ‘call Sheriff’s,’ Det. Cameron Carroll wrote.
“Alexis the radio then called 911.’”
The department’s grasp of technology was further called into question when Amazon told Buzzfeed that Alexa can’t call 911.
“Alexa calling and messaging does not support 911 calls,” a company representative told the news site.
The words ‘call the sheriff’ would not lead Alexa to call the cops, the representative said.
Barros faces charges of false imprisonment, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a household member, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a household member and being a felon in possession of a firearm, police said. None of the allegations against Barros have been proven in court.
Photo: LG Electronics Vice President David VanderWaal and Amazon Echo Vice President Mike George present the LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator to CES 2017 attendees at the LG Electronics press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Jack Dempsey/AP Images for LG Electronics)
Tags: Alexa, amazon, domestic assault, domestic violence, Google, gun, New Mexico, police, saves, victim, virtual assistant, woman