BRIDGEPORT — A woman whose butcher knife-wielding fiance was shot and killed by Chicago police in a Bridgeport apartment last week said the cops were entirely justified in pulling the trigger.
Felix Valdez abused her in the past and was threatening her that night, she said. And police say Valdez refused officers' demands to drop his two knives.
"I think this was the only way I could get away from him," said the woman, who spoke to DNAinfo Chicago on the condition of anonymity. "It's the first time in a long time I feel safe."
The woman, a 43-year-old fast-food worker, said Valdez was a serial abuser who frequently flew into drunken rages during their 15-month courtship.
She described Valdez, a former Soldier Field security guard estranged from his nine children, as paranoid, jealous, controlling and troubled.
"He was always miserable and just unhappy," she said.
The violence came to a horrific climax early Friday at their apartment in the 3200 block of South Halsted Street when Valdez kicked her in the stomach and torched her cat's tail with a cigarette lighter, she said.
About an hour later, the woman said she was startled to find Valdez on top of her in bed, naked and trying to rip her clothes off.
"It takes one hit and you're dead," she said he told her, after he'd wrapped one hand around her neck and held up his other hand.
Struggling for her life, the woman said she was finally able to get one of her legs free to kick the bedroom wall, prompting her 18-year-old daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to race into the room and pull Valdez away.
The woman said she ran outside to call police, leaving her daughter and the boyfriend to deal with Valdez, who by then had picked up two knives — a long butcher knife and a switchblade — and announced that "The first cops that walk through the door, I'm going to shank 'em."
When the police arrived, he began taunting them, she said.
"What if I take one step?"
"Drop the knives," the cops yelled, according to the woman.
"What if I take two steps?"
"And when he took that second step he lifted up his arm," prompting police to open fire and put at least two bullets into Valdez's chest, she said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A spokesman for the Independent Police Review Authority, the law enforcement body that investigates police-involved shootings, said only that officers are trained to "eliminate the threat, whatever the threat is."
Police union spokesman Pat Camden said officers responding to domestic situations are often faced with completely unpredictable scenarios.
“The police are dropped into the middle of this quagmire and are asked to resolve it," Camden said. "The unfortunate thing is that they reach a point of deadly consequence."
Camden commended the officers for "possibly saving several lives” by opening fire on Valdez that night.
“There’s no way an officer will jeopardize his life because the offender is simply not listening,” he said. "'Drop the damn knife, and you won’t get shot’ is a pretty simple equation.”
Camden said the officers who shot Valdez were shaken up after the shooting and will undergo psychiatric evaluations before returning to active duty.
Reflecting on the volatile relationship, Valdez's fiancée said she considers herself "one of the lucky ones" for escaping an abusive past, and she's preparing to move out of the neighborhood soon for a fresh start.
Despite the upending of her life last week, she said she's sure of one thing: She won't attend Valdez's funeral.