The family of a 61-year-old man killed by a Chicago police officer during a domestic call last week is being represented by a civil rights lawyer who demanded Tuesday that authorities turn over police video of the shooting.
Attorney Michael Oppenheimer said serious questions remain about the deadly shooting, including whether Michael A. Craig was even holding a weapon or threatening police.
“Nobody from the Chicago Police Department has reached out to this family to give any explanation of why their father, friend and loved one was killed by the Chicago Police Department,” attorney Michael Oppenheimer said at a news conference.
Craig was fatally shot by one of the officers who responded to a call about a “domestic disturbance” around 7:35 a.m. Oct. 4 in a second-floor apartment in the 7700 block of South Carpenter Street.
Police said the officers “observed a domestic altercation” and one of them fired and hit Craig. Police have said a knife was recovered but would not say if Craig or the woman with him was holding it at the time.
But Oppenheimer said the woman in the apartment, whom he identified as Craig’s wife, was threatening Craig with a knife and Craig screamed at his 7-year-old son to call the police.
“He yelled to his . . . son, ‘Call the police, call the police. She’s got a knife to my throat,” said Oppenheimer.
When officers arrived, Oppenheimer said “witnesses heard the police officer yell “Drop it, drop it” and immediately two gunshots were fired.”
Craig’s wife was taken to the hospital after the shooting for mental health issues and remains under observation, the family said. Craig’s 7-year-old son is in the care of relatives.
“(Craig) was a victim of domestic violence,” Oppenheimer said. “I fear that the police are being unusually silent in this case because they made him a victim, again, of domestic violence and now a victim of the Chicago Police Department.”
Craig and his wife had been married for nearly 10 years, according to Craig’s older son Patrick Jenkins, and it was not the first altercation between the two. In 2016, Craig’s wife stabbed him and she was arrested but then released.
Despite their past, Jenkins said his father loved his wife “very much.”
“He wanted to help her, and this is what happened,” said Jenkins, 40. “He didn’t deserve it.”
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has 60 days before it is required to release body camera footage from the officers. Oppenheimer said the family has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency in the hopes of speeding the process along.
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter for the Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.