Chicago, Ill – Building custodian Michael Craig called 911 on October 4 pleading for help. He told the 911 operator his wife had a knife to his throat and was threatening to kill him if he moved.
“She got the knife round my neck right now. I cant move. If I move, she’s gone kill me. I’ve got the front door open, tell the officers the door is open, my kid is opening the door,” Craig told the 911 operator.
When police arrived outside the building, they spoke to Craig’s 7-year-old son who told them his mother has a knife and is threatening his father.
“Somebody has a knife? Who has the knife?” one of the officer’s asks the child.
The child replies, “My mama.”
The officer continues: “What is she doing with the knife? Do you know what she’s doing with the knife? Who told you to call?”
The boy replies, “My daddy.”
The officers ask the boy to direct them to the apartment and stay outside. The officers then proceed up the stairs.
In a press release, Civilian Officer of Police Accountability (COPA) spokesman Ephraim Eaddy stated that police had “engaged” Craig and his wife before Officer Alberto Covarrubias fired his weapon, however, body camera footage of the encounter tells a different story.
In the footage, released by COPA late last month, one of the officers can be heard calling out in the stairway leading to the apartment; announcing that police are about to step through the doorway.
Craig can then be heard on the video saying, “She’s got a butcher knife to my neck.”
Sudden screams can be heard from inside the apartment just before officers enter. Covarrubias, already holding his Taser in one hand, pulls his firearm from his holster before entering and within seconds of stepping into the apartment fires both his Taser and his gun at Craig.
Craig is struck and falls to the floor. Covarrubias then fires another shot at Craig while he is on the ground.
The officer then grabs the knife from the floor and drags the woman away from Craig and immediately starts checking on her – asking if she’s hurt and where Craig stabbed her.
As the officer checks on the woman, who we now know was not injured, Craig lays in the bathroom doorway bleeding. The officers don’t attend to Craig. His family’s attorney brought that up following the video’s release.
“Treating her like the victim of domestic violence – when the real victim of domestic violence, and the victim of the Chicago Police Department, lay dying two feet away,” said Michael Oppenheimer, the attorney representing Craig’s family.
Covarrubias finally checks on Craig almost three minutes after the shooting, shaking his shoulder to see if he is responsive. Craig does not respond. Almost another three minutes later, the officer checks Craig’s pulse.
Craig was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 61-years-old. His wife was taken by ambulance to a hospital for observation.
An autopsy determined Craig died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Craig’s family is calling for justice and a change to how the Chicago Police Department responds to mental illness and domestic violence.
According to Oppenheimer, Craig had already been stabbed by his wife “at least four times” before police arrived.
“Every bit of evidence (police) had on the way to the scene, the statements by Craig himself, point to him being the victim, but he fires those shots with no hesitation,” Oppenheimer said.
“Everything my father told them, everything he cried out for, they ignored,” Craig’s son Patrick Jenkins said. “And then they let him die like a dog.”
Police said officer Covarrubias was placed on 30-day administrative leave pending the investigation.
Oppenheimer said in the coming weeks he intends to file a federal lawsuit against the police department.
*WARNING* VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
Michael Craig’s 911 Call: