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Layers of clothing blocked stun gun before police shot woman

This screenshot from a video released by the Independent Police Review Authority shows the shooting of Michele Robey (at left) at Irving Park and Western on Feb. 10.

Before a Chicago Police officer fatally shot Michele Robey near Irving Park and Western on Feb. 10, a stun gun was used in an effort to subdue the woman, who authorities said was threatening officers and employees of a CVS.

After the stun gun proved ineffective, Robey was shot in the abdomen in the middle of Western Avenue.

Records show that the amount of clothing worn by the 55-year-old Robey prevented the stun gun’s probes from reaching her flesh.

In her autopsy report, the Cook County medical examiner’s office concluded: “A Taser was deployed, however due to the amount of clothing worn by the subject, the Taser was ineffective.”

Robey was wearing seven sweaters, a jacket, five shirts, four pairs of black leggings and a pair of jeans, among other articles of clothing, when she was shot, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Police said at the time that the stun gun was used twice to no effect, and Robey, who lived on the Northwest Side, was shot after lunging at officers.

Darryl Dixon, a witness to the shooting, told the Chicago Sun-Times then that he saw “Taser wires hanging off the back of her jacket.”

The medical examiner’s office noted that “Two gray probes were recovered on the black hooded zip up jacket and the black sweater.”

In accordance with its self-imposed policy, the Independent Police Review Authority released records from Robey’s shooting on Tuesday, 60 days after the shooting. The records released included surveillance video and recordings of 911 calls.

“I have a customer that’s in the back screaming and causing a scene, swearing at customers,” a CVS pharmacy employee says in a 911 recording. “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 that 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 holding an object, and tussled with the employee before getting out the door.

Police arrived after Robey had exited the CVS, and surveillance video shows the two officers and Robey walking through traffic before the shooting.

After her death, members of Robey’s family said she battled bipolar schizoaffective disorder.


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Last month, Robey’s family filed a five-count lawsuit against the officers at the scene, alleging excessive force, battery and wrongful death, according to court documents. The suit also seeks damages under the survival act and family expense act.

Michael Oppenheimer, one of the attorneys representing Robey’s family, said officers lack proper training in dealing with mentally ill people.

“There’s got to be some step between the Taser and shooting her in the stomach,” Oppenheimer said. “The CPD is not trained, and they’ve never been trained, in how to deal with mentally ill people and that’s a problem.”

Oppenheimer also disputed the claim that Robey lunged at police.

The only two officers on the scene that night were in Robey’s immediate proximity for less than five minutes before she was shot, records show.

Chicago Police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said in an email Thursday that, because the initial call to police did not mention someone with mental health problems, the officers dispatched to the scene did not have Crisis Intervention Training.

The type of knife Robey was wielding the night she was shot has not been disclosed. Surveillance video does not clearly show it and one of the 911 callers speculated it was a butter knife.

Video shot at the scene that night by ABC7 appears to show a steak knife laying in the street.

Citing the ongoing IPRA investigation, Giancamilli declined to offer specifics on the knife. Oppenheimer said he wasn’t aware of what type of knife it was other than it being “something you find in the kitchen.”