WBEZ obtains 911 call from controversial Hammond traffic stop
This American Life and WBEZ have obtained the first copy of the 911 call from a controversial traffic stop in Hammond, Indiana. You can hear the full audio of the call above.
The Sept. 24 incident began when police in Hammond pulled over an African-American family for a minor seatbelt violation.
During the stop, passenger Jamal Jones refused to exit the vehicle when ordered to by officers.
The driver of the car, Lisa Mahone, called 911 for help.
After several minutes of asking, police drew their weapons as Mahone’s two young children watched from the back seat.
One of the kids recorded the incident on his phone, and the video went viral.
The video ends with the moment most people remember: the officers smash the window, drag the passenger from the car, and tase him. Police have said that they thought there might have been a gun in the car.
You can hear some of Mahone’s side of the 911 call in the video — but for the first time the official 911 audio gives us both sides of the conversation that took place when Mahone essentially called the police...on the police.
Some of the 911 call is difficult to understand, but what’s clear is the two women have completely different perceptions of what’s happening.
Mahone says she’s scared that an officer has drawn his weapon and doesn’t want to leave the car.
The dispatcher repeatedly tries to make the case that Mahone is safe and that she and the passengers should follow the orders of the police officers.
The tape from the 911 call is about two minutes long, and cuts off when the window is smashed.
After the incident originally came to light, Hammond mayor Tom McDermott Jr. defended the actions of his officers.
Regarding the release of the 911 tape, McDermott responded to WBEZ’s request for comment with a text message.
“I’ll take a pass on commenting while the criminal case and civil cases are being litigated,” McDermott wrote.
Meanwhile, Mahone and Jones continue to pursue their federal civil rights lawsuit against the Hammond police.
The FBI is still looking into the actions of the police on that day.
WBEZ obtained a recording of the 911 call as part of a two episode project from This American Life examining the relationship between police and civilians. The first of those episodes called “Cops See it Differently” airs Feb. 6 on WBEZ at 7 p.m.
Michael Puente is WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Follow him @MikePuenteNews.