911 calls released in case of teen shot by DuPage deputy
The family of Trevon Johnson, the 17-year-old Villa Park-area resident shot multiple times and killed by a DuPage County sheriff's deputy, is asking the public to "wait until you hear our side" of what happened to the teen.
Johnson was shot early Monday morning by a deputy responding to a domestic violence call in the Brandywine neighborhood. Authorities said the deputy, who has not been named but is white, believed Johnson, who is black, had a knife; the family denies he was armed.
But in recordings of 911 calls released Tuesday night, callers from the home contradict each other, with two saying Johnson was throwing glass around the house and wielding a kitchen knife, one of those callers later saying Johnson was shooting a gun, and then another saying Johnson had only a butter knife.
DuPage County sheriff's officials didn't respond to requests for comment earlier Tuesday and did not confirm or deny what was heard on the 911 calls. Illinois State Police said earlier Tuesday they were investigating.
On the recordings, people identified as Johnson's siblings describe domestic violence. A woman who the sheriff's department said identified herself as Johnson's sister says in the first call that Johnson attacked her.
In what the sheriff's office labeled Call #2, a man whom the sheriff's department identifies as Johnson's brother says Johnson and a sister were fighting, and Johnson was throwing glass around and wielding a kitchen knife. Then near the end of that call, the tone changes. A few loud, rapid noises are heard and the man, when asked by the dispatcher if Johnson is shooting, says yes. Screaming in the background gets louder.
Someone on Call #3, made back to the home by dispatchers, says Johnson only had a butter knife. It's unclear where in the chronology of events this call was actually made.
People are heard on the first two tapes yelling in the background, sometimes screaming. The second caller says "at least seven people" were in the home.
Earlier Tuesday, DuPage officials issued a news release saying only that the preliminary results of an autopsy showed Johnson died from "multiple gunshot wounds."
The Rev. Alfonzo Singletary of Tabernacle of Hope Church of God in Christ in Chicago said the police version of events is not necessarily what occurred.
"We want you to wait until you hear our side, our narrative, before anybody makes a decision or any judgment on what happened," he said Tuesday afternoon outside the family home.
"At this time, we're just asking that everyone respect our privacy while we go through this moment of mourning and grieving," said Singletary, who is also the teen's uncle.
He said attorneys representing the family plan to present their version of events at a later date.
One of those attorneys, Larry R. Rogers Jr., said the family is concentrating on making arrangements for Johnson's funeral.
But, he said, "this looks to me to be a completely unjustifiable shooting, and it's irresponsible of this police department to be releasing statements describing altercations and domestic incidents in progress before all the facts are developed.
"This seems to me to be a 17-year-old young man celebrating the holidays like all of us are with his family when he's shot and killed in his home. It's inexcusable."
Rogers later said in a statement that Johnson wasn't in an altercation with the officer "or anyone else when he was shot."
"He was doing as he was told when the officer opened fire," the statement reads.
Rogers, of the Chicago firm of Power, Rogers and Smith, was one of the attorneys who represented the family of former Naperville resident Sandra Bland, who died in 2015 in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop.
Singletary, meanwhile, said Johnson's family is still trying to cope.
"It's difficult, but we're a strong-knit family; we're a faith-based family," Singletary said. "Through prayer we will make it through."
Singletary declined to discuss whether Johnson had any developmental issues that may have contributed to the initial call. But Rogers said in his statement that Johnson wasn't mentally disabled.
"Trevon was a very important part of our family. He was a very young guy, full of energy (and) had a lot to live for," Singletary said.
Singletary also declined to discuss specifics of the way the deputy responded.
"We've got a person who was unarmed, and now he's dead," he said. "You be the judge of that."
Police visits to the home were not uncommon, neighbors said Tuesday morning.
Steve Dollinger, who lives across the street and a few doors down from the scene of the shooting, said police were called there on multiple occasions.
"There have been a lot incidents at that house over the past year," he said, describing them as domestic disturbances. Police, he said, were summoned there "numerous times, especially over the summer."
"We hear them a lot," he said. "A lot of fighting and screaming."
Other neighbors agreed that calls were frequent to the home, occupied by a multigenerational family.
Law enforcement officials said Monday deputies were called to the home on Standish Lane at Eliot Lane early Monday by a report of domestic violence in progress. The first responding officer was involved in the altercation that led to the shooting, police said.
The officer told investigators he believed the teen had a knife. He was the only officer on the scene when he fired multiple shots at Johnson, sources say.
Johnson was taken to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
It's the first fatal shooting by a DuPage County deputy in more than 20 years, sources said.
Neighbors of the teen said they didn't hear any disturbance or know anything was wrong until they saw and heard police cars lining the street shortly after midnight.
They said the residence has been owned by the same person for many years but recently was rented to the family.
Neighbors said it is usually a quiet neighborhood. That changed early Monday, they said. Police response was massive, and the entire street was cordoned off.
But neighbors also said they were initially unaware there had been a shooting.
"It wasn't that loud," Dollinger said, "considering there was an army here."