WBEZ has obtained the 911 call from another recent police officer involved shooting. In the audio above, we walk you through that call and one following it, and accounts from both the police and family, with this caution: the recordings may be difficult for sensitive listeners.
On Sept. 25, 2015, Pamela Anderson called 911 and told the operator she needed help getting her son, who had a history of mental illness, to the hospital. The operator asked if he was violent.
“He’s cursing and stuff, talking about he what is going to do,” Pamela Anderson answered.
“Well, cursing is not violent,” the operator replied.
“But, yes, he is acting like he is, yes,” Anderson said.
The operator asked if her son had a weapon and the mother said her son had a box cutter in his pocket.
“But he is not going to use it. You don’t need to come here with no guns or nothing,” the mother said.
What happened after police arrived on the scene is less clear.
Police documents say that James Anderson charged at them with a knife, maybe two knives, or knife-like objects. Those reports say police tried to stop Anderson with a Taser, but that when that failed to stop him, they shot.
A court case filed by the mother, however, tells a very different story. It says an officer walked into the house with his gun drawn. The mother says she begged him to put it away. She says officers went to James Anderson’s bedroom and knocked. When her son emerged, no weapon in hand, Pamela Anderson says police shot.
Though the accounts from the mother and the police are different, from first-responder documents we know James Anderson was shot at least five times and died.
Later a neighbor called 911 to say the mother was on the ground, out in the street, presumably in shock. When the 911 operator asks the neighbor if police see the mother in the street, the neighbor says, “They don’t give a [expletive] about her. They just killed her son.”
The Chicago agency that reviews all police shootings has an open investigation of the case and Chicago’s Police Department says it will not comment on open cases.
Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h