CHICAGO — The city has released dramatic recordings of 911 calls made as an off-duty police officer fatally shot his elderly neighbor in April.
The recordings, which the city partially redacted to obscure the identities and specific injuries of the people involved, illustrate a dramatic standoff between two neighbors, whose confrontational history was well-known on their Auburn Gresham street.
On April 25, police responded to a call of two people shot in the 8400 block of South Carpenter Avenue. Authorities said 91-year-old Hazel Jones-Huff was arguing with her neighbor, the wife of an off-duty Chicago police officer, when her husband, Joe Huff, 86, emerged with a shotgun.
The off-duty police officer warned Huff to drop the gun, according to authorities. But Huff fired, striking the officer's wife in her chest. The off-duty police officer returned fire, killing Huff. Then Huff's wife picked up the shotgun, despite the officer's warnings not to, prompting the officer to shoot her, authorities said.
The tapes released by the city's Office of Emergency Management Communications paint a chaotic picture. In one call, a woman asks for police to be dispatched to the scene of an argument. Then, as 10 shots are heard in the background, she said, "Oh my God! They're shooting. They shot that old man."
She tells a dispatcher the shooter lives on the block and is a police officer.
Another recording the city released captures the officer's 911 call, as he attempts to diffuse the argument, and then fatally shoots Huff, and wounds Jones-Huff.
In the recording, two women are heard arguing as the officer talks to a dispatcher. A single shot is heard, followed by screams. Then 10 more shots are heard.
"Shots fired, shots fired," says the officer, who has not been publicly identified.
He's then heard addressing Jones-Huff: "Get the f--- back before I shoot you. Get away from the gun."
He asks for an ambulance, and continues to warn Jones-Huff against picking up the gun.
"Get back from the gun," he says. "If you pick it up, I'm going to shoot you."
Then another shot is heard, as the officer fires at his neighbor.
As the tape continues, the officer tells the dispatcher the situation is a "10-1" — police parlance for an officer in distress — and again asks for police help.
"My wife is shot. Please get the police out here," he said. "Shots fired at the police! Get the police out here right now!"
The officer's wife was wounded in the upper chest, and Jones-Huff was shot in the arm and the leg. She was charged with misdemeanor battery and aggravated assault.
"It's something that could have been totally avoided. Completely unnecessary," said Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, at the time. "Now [the officer] has to live with the fact that he killed this guy defending his wife."
Family members said the Huffs and their neighbors had an ongoing feud that included several violent incidents in the past. They disputed police's version of the incident.
At Huff's funeral, friends and family remembered him as a loving grandfather and war veteran.
"He died with dignity, believing he was doing the right thing — protecting his wife Hazel," said Donald Meeks, according to the Tribune. "Not many are willing to give up their life for the one they love."
The Independent Police Review Authority opened an investigation at the time of the shooting.