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Father whose daughter called 911 after he took away her cell phone, speaks out

South Euclid police officers' body cameras capture the officers' lesson to the teen girl about her cell phone

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — It's not your usual 911 call.

"My father took property, which is an $800 phone that doesn't belong to him. He didn't buy it," said the 16-year-old girl to dispatchers.

The teenager made an emergency call because her father took her cell phone.

"Certainly if we were busy, it would be pushed to the back burner, but we still have an obligation to respond," said Lt. James Wilson of the South Euclid Police Department.

Officers saw a teaching opportunity, and responded to the Plainfield Road home last Saturday afternoon. Police body cameras were recording, as officers approached Anthony Robertson and his daughter outside the home.

"I want my phone," declared the teen.

"I took her phone because she's a juvenile, and I don't want her to have it," explained Robertson to officers.

"I can't inspect it, because the phone is locked, so I took it away," he said.

After officers made sure that the issue was merely a parent trying to discipline a child, the officers backed up Robertson.

"It's my property and I don't live here," said the teen, who lives with her grandmother, but occasionally stays at her father's home.

"But guess what?" said one officer to the teen, "Everything that you own belongs to your mother and your father. Having a phone is not a right."

"It's a privilege," added Robertson.

Robertson told WKYC by phone that he was taken aback when officers showed up at his door.

"There's like, 4 cars, and I'm like, oh my goodness, the police are coming and they look kind of tough," he said with a laugh.

"To all the parents, you know? Stay on them. There's so many hidden apps and little ways that they can hide and cover up what they're doing on those phones. It's ridiculous," said Robertson. 

Officers also spoke to the teen about the importance of only calling 9-1-1 for real emergencies.

Since the South Euclid Police Department shared the incident on its Facebook page, the post has gotten hundreds of likes and shares from empathetic parents. But it also stirred some debate in the comment section over whether minors have property rights.

"Our department would not pursue this type of 'theft,'" said Lt. Wilson. "You'd be hard pressed to find a court in this country who would take the case."

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