Video: Knife-wielding man is fatally shot during domestic call in Chicago

The incident has renewed calls for innovative approaches to domestic violence response


By Annie Sweeney
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — The release of video this week of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a man who was armed with a knife during a domestic disturbance call has refocused attention on the need for innovative responses to intimate partner violence in the city, advocates said

The shooting of Turell Brown, 28, which was captured on the body-worn cameras of responding police officers, was one of two fatal encounters police have had in the past month during domestic violence calls. And on Monday, a Chicago police officer was shot and wounded while responding to a domestic disturbance at a store.

Chicago Police Department

Together, the incidents highlight why a new, non-police response model should be developed to address domestic violence, said Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, a coalition of organizations that provides domestic violence-related services in the Chicago metropolitan area.

“What’s clear is that victims need help,” Pyron said. “They are not able to de-escalate situations on their own so they need someone to come in and help them.”

Under the Network’s proposal, advocates who specialize in domestic violence response and are trained in de-escalation, including with perpetrators, would respond, when it was appropriate and safe.

Pyron said there is no other model like this in the country and planning it would include research and a pilot.

“We would have to create it, and it is our intent to work with the city to create it,” Pyron said.

[RELATED: Evolving police response to domestic violence calls]

Ultimately, the goal would be to have the response team so well-known that victims could call long before an emergency and avoid police all together, given the inherent risks of a law enforcement response, including physical harm and an arrest, which is not always in the best interest of a partner or family.

 

The city of Chicago has also already agreed to use nontraditional response models for mental health calls. Two months ago it launched a pilot co-responder program, which created teams of police and clinicians to respond to mental health calls. But the city has yet to launch a second alternative response model, one that fully substitutes mental health clinicians for officers, that was preferred by several aldermen and community organizations.

In a statement Wednesday on the potential of a domestic violence response model, Mayor Lori Lightfoot pointed to her strategic plan on gender-based violence, which calls for a “non-police crisis response to gender-based violence related incidents.”

The office also noted that Lightfoot’s office has increased funding for survivors of domestic violence.

There have been three high-profile domestic violence incidents in Chicago in the past month alone.

In addition to Brown, Chicago police shot and killed a 61-year-old man Oct. 4 while responding to a domestic dispute in Gresham. On Monday, a Chicago police officer was wounded after a man who allegedly threatened an acquaintance with a gun shot the officer in the cheek outside a business in the 1000 block of West North Avenue.

The footage released this week was from body-worn cameras of officers who responded last month to the 6500 block of South Harvard Avenue in Englewood after a woman there reported a domestic disturbance.

[RELATED: Risk assessment: Dispatchers need domestic violence training too]

The video, released per city policy by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, shows two officers arriving at the apartment door and knocking before they walk into the apartment. A woman standing just inside tells them she had been punched in the face and chest and that someone inside the apartment had pulled a knife on her and that she wants him to be removed.

One officer then begins to walk through the apartment and is just about to walk into a second room when he immediately retreats to the apartment’s entryway as he draws his gun, the video shows.

Brown then enters the video frame and is visible in the doorway between the two rooms, holding an object in his hand as he appears to be saying something. He also waves what appears to be a knife at the officers, who were then back out in the hallway of the building.

The officers can be seen yelling repeatedly for Brown to drop the object, including telling him to “put that knife down.” Brown then starts inching out into the room along a wall in the direction of the officers with his arms open as the woman remains in the same room.

“Put it down,” the officers continue to yell. “Put it down!”

After a few seconds, one officer opened fire. On the video, Brown turns quickly to go back into the second room. After several seconds he briefly reemerges and is again standing in the doorway before he falls backward. A second officer begins several minutes of chest compressions.

“Stay with me,” the officer says repeatedly.

Brown was later pronounced dead.

COPA released a brief description of the incident Tuesday, along with the videos and documents, and said the investigation into the officer’s use of force was ongoing.

“The officers engaged the suspected individual, who was armed with a knife,” the statement read. “Officers gave verbal commands to drop the knife which resulted in an officer discharging his firearm, fatally striking the individual.”

Chicago Tribune’s Stephanie Casanova contributed.

©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2021 Police1. All rights reserved.