911 audio released Friday to The Times reveals the perilous moments of a Nov. 28 police chase just before a 15-year-old boy was shot in the head by Hammond officers.
The family of the 15-year-old, De Avion Ashley, a high school sophomore from Hammond, claims police brutality.
A bloody end
“He just drove through a fence,” an officer says just at the 6:10 mark of the seven-minute, 53-second recording. “He's trying to get through the alley on Madison. He's going to be boxed in if you block off Madison on the east alley.”
At 6:18, an officer says, “Shots fired, shots fired.”
“He just hit the wall of the expressway.”
“Copy, update. Unit, give me an update.”
“[Unintelligible] He's not moving anymore.”
“Dogs out, dogs out.”
“Is he still shooting?”
After a pause, an officer responded, "We're trying to get the car, but the suspect appears to be hit."
6 minutes earlier
The audio begins with police and dispatch discussing a stolen white Chevy Equinox traveling near 173rd and Walnut Avenue in Hammond.
“The vehicle just tried to back up, now it's taking off. We're going to be going eastbound,” an officer says in the recording. “Now we're going to be going southbound in the alley of Walnut.”
Police then pursued the car by the bike trail of the Hammond YMCA at 7322 Southeastern Ave.
“He's driving on the bike trail,” an officer says. “We're not chasing anyone on the bike trail, have them terminate.”
The vehicle continued driving in the area of Northcote Avenue and 173rd Street.
“They just rammed a squad car, Central, we've got them locked in,” an officer says, followed by a short pause. “He took off again. We're southbound Northcote on Southeastern, westbound 175th.”
“They're looking for a place to bail,” an officer states, suspecting the driver is planning get out of the vehicle and flee on foot.
As the chase continues, officers can be heard coordinating how to block off the driver's routes.
“He's going to bail, he's looking for somewhere to bail, get a dog over here?” an officer asks.
As officers continued pursuing the car near White Oak Avenue, concerns were raised about nearby schools.
“Guys, be aware there's children out from school right now,” an officer cautions.
Shortly after, an officer says, “Just be advised, I do not have my body cam.”
“He's going in circles, let's set up stop sticks in a couple of areas,” an officer instructs, referring to tire deflation devices.
“Yeah, I'm going to try and block him off ...”
It appeared that the teen circles back to an alleyway near Madison Avenue, avoiding hitting the stop sticks.
As the pursuit continues, an officer says, “I've got K-9 behind me, I'm just going to stay in my car if he bails.”
“He's going in a dead end on Madison and 176th.”
After Hammond police fired, the vehicle crashed into the Interstate 80/94 expressway wall.
“There's a school bus on Harrison, 175th, get a hold of them and get them out of there.”
The dispatcher then asks for a description of the person in the car.
“16 Central, it was one suspect that could be the same guy from yesterday that did one at the Y, supposedly he was 32.”
“10-4, Do we have him in custody or is he still at large?”
“He's in custody. He's been injured, we need an F.D. here now.”
“Medics and F.D. have been dispatched.”
“No other suspects at large, correct?”
“No. All units, all squads and suspects are accounted for.”
The investigation continues
The recorded audio tapes were provided in response to The Times' requests to the E-911 dispatch center. The Times' request for the dash cam video footage has been denied by police, pending the investigation.
According to police, the teen stole a vehicle and led police on a chase in Hammond, which ended after the teen was shot in the head by police and crashed in a neighborhood just north of the Borman Expressway.
Ashley was taken to Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago and was admitted into the intensive care unit, his family told The Times.
'It will be Jason Van Dyke 2.0'
Demetrius Nash, of Chicago, Ashley's cousin, said Friday the teen is alert and speaking but is still in the hospital. The boy cannot walk yet and will be undergoing rehabilitation.
“He's still in a critical situation,” Nash said. “But he lived, God had him. And we are going to move forward as a family.”
Nash said the family is speaking with a lawyer, but legal action has not yet been taken.
“If it turns out the shooting was justified, as a family we will thank God for his life,” Nash said. “We know he wasn't doing the right thing. But if the shooting was not justified, as far as the officer feeling his life was in danger when he pulled the trigger, we want criminal charges filed.”
“Once we get all of the facts, if the shooting turns out to not be justified, there will be protests and Hammond will be shaken up,” Nash said. “It will be Jason Van Dyke 2.0.”
State police are currently handling the investigation. Information regarding further details of the incident and investigation outcomes have yet to be released.
“It is still under investigation,” Ann Wojas, Indiana State Police spokeswoman, said. “We are waiting for some results from the lab. Detectives are hoping to have everything completed and sent to the prosecutors by the new year.”
Bradley Carter, the spokesman for the Lake County prosecutor's office, said to his knowledge, the Indiana State Police have not yet presented their findings to the prosecutor's office. The staff member who handles police-involved shootings was not in the office Friday, he said.
Hammond Lt. Steven Kellogg said the Hammond Police Department will make a statement once the investigation comes to a close. However, he did speak to the safety concerns officers have in police chase situations.
“Anytime there's a pursuit during school hours or when there's a lot of traffic, there are safety concerns,” Kellogg said. “Many times pursuits are terminated, or stopped, before they get going depending on the vehicle's speed and the circumstances. I wasn't in the chase so I don't know what those officers saw, but there's general safety concerns if school is being let out or if there are pedestrians in the area.”
Update: Hammond police shoot boy, 15, after chase; teen's family speaks out
HAMMOND — Police shot a 15-year-old boy early Wednesday after he led them on a chase in a st…