Amazon Echo
An Amazon Dot is shown on top of a Hopper at the Dish Network booth during the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, January 6, 2017. Reuters/ Steve Marcus

After responding to a domestic violence case in Tijeras, New Mexico on July 2, the Bernalillo County sheriff department initially announced that Amazon Echo, the voice-activated speaker device, had automatically called 911 that led the police to arrive at the scene.

However, it later became clear that the device is not equipped to make emergency calls under normal circumstances.

Eduardo Barros, the suspect in the case, was arrested after the sheriff’s department dispatched a SWAT team to the scene after receiving a distress call that neither the victim nor the neighbors had placed. That led the department to deduce that Alexa had called the emergency services unbidden, after picking up certain key phrases from either the victim or the suspect. Barros was arrested before he could harm his girlfriend or her child.

According to Fox 13, Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said: "The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life. This amazing technology definitely helped save a mother and her child from a very violent situation."

Read: Amazon Echo Show Reviews: New Alexa Speaker Benefits From Screen

However, PR manager for Amazon Rachel Hass said the smart device was not programmed to call 911 even if it received a direct order from the owner.

"Alexa calling and messaging operates via Wi-Fi between Echo devices or the Alexa app — it does not support PSTN (public switched telephone network) calling," Hass said, NBC 26 reported. "This means, for example, a customer couldn't complete a call to just any (number) in the U.S. — the receiving end would also need to have an Echo device or the Alexa app connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data, and they would need to have Alexa calling/messaging set up."

Another representative for Amazon told BuzzFeed something similar: "Alexa calling and messaging does not support 911 calls."

Furthermore, staff at Mashable tried directing both Amazon Echo and Google Home to “call the sheriff” without any result, proving the keywords that were believed to have triggered the voice-activated device to take action did not work. The sheriff’s office later confirmed it cannot be sure if the device used to call 911 was indeed Amazon Alexa.

Read: Amazon Echo Show Launching With Alexa Support, Touchscreen, Smart Camera Support June 28

However, there are a few ways to get around the restriction, and get Alexa Echo or Echo Dot to call 911 during an emergency using third-party apps.

According to KFire TV, apps such as GroupMe, utilized by online IFTTT service, can be coupled with Amazon Alexa to send a distress message to your loved ones when the latter detects a set of specific voice commands.

However, if someone wants to call 911 directly, they have to connect Alexa Echo to an Android tablet and a pair of speakers via Bluetooth. After this is done, if the owner says “Google, dial 911” or “Alexa, dial 911” (provided one has switched the Google Now trigger word first), a call will be directly placed to the emergency services. This is because Google’s Siri does not have the particular limitation that prohibits Alexa Echo from calling 911. The speaker will help the person communicate with emergency services without having to be near the phone.

This is not the first instance of an Amazon Alexa device rumored to have assisted law enforcement agencies in securing justice. In December last year, prosecutors of a murder case involving a dead body found in a hot tub at an Arkansas residence, sought to enter evidence gathered from the voice recordings of an Amazon Echo device found at the crime scene, Phys reported.