CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - The Independent Police Review Authority has released audio and surveillance video showing a mentally ill woman’s confrontation with employees at a North Center CVS before she was fatally shot by two Chicago Police officers outside the store earlier this year.
Michele Robey, 55, threatened employees with a knife about 5:45 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the store at 3944 N. Western Ave., police said at the time. Family members said Robey battled bipolar schizoaffective disorder, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
“I have a customer that’s in the back screaming and causing a scene, swearing at customers,” a pharmacy employee says in a 911 recording released by IPRA on Tuesday. “She just threw a can of nuts at me.
“She has a knife. She’s knocking stuff off shelves,” the employee says over yells in the background. A customer called 911 as well.
Store surveillance video shows an employee set up two carts in front of the entrance to the store, apparently in an attempt to keep the person inside until police arrive. A person in a black jacket walks up with an object in hand, tussling with the employee before getting out the door.
Eight minutes after the first 911 call, a person driving past the intersection of Western Avenue and Irving Park Road called to report a suspicious woman sitting at a bus stop, screaming into the air.
“And it looks like she’s holding a knife, it could be a butter knife,” the caller says.
Soon after, the rattle of a stun gun can be heard on a police radio transmission.
“I got a woman with a knife. Taser deployed, nothing happening,” an officer says. “Shots fired! Shots fired!” he says about 20 seconds later. “Get an ambulance over here. Shots fired.”
They used the stun gun on Robey twice before shooting her, police said at the time.
Video released by IPRA doesn’t show Robey’s interaction with police. A camera on a passing CTA bus captured the aftermath of the shooting, with two police officers standing over a person on the street.
Darryl Dixon, a witness who told the Chicago Sun-Times he saw the shooting unfold from a gas station across the street, said the officers tried to deal with the woman for at least 15 minutes.
“The male officer said, ‘You should have dropped the knife. An ambulance is coming now,'” Dixon said.
Each officer fired one shot from about 5 feet away, reports show. An autopsy found Robey died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
In their reports, the officers indicated they opened fire because Robey “did not follow verbal direction,” put them in “imminent threat of battery,” and brandished a knife with “force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.”
A CPD lieutenant signed off on the reports, saying both officers “acted in compliance with department policy.” They were put on desk duty for 30 days after the shooting, per CPD policy, and remain on the force, city payroll records show.
Robey’s sister has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers, claiming they used excessive force. That case is pending in U.S. District Court. Records show Robey had faced drug charges, bankruptcy and foreclosure.
IPRA has not yet ruled on the justification of the shooting.