GARY — Moments before a police officer fatally shot a 25-year-old sitting in a car Aug. 17, a man called 911 to report he and his grandmother had heard gunshots in the area, records show.
An attorney for Lake County 911 released a copy of the call Friday in response to The Times' public records request. Silence can be heard at the beginning of the call, where officials redacted identifying information.
During the call, the man reports hearing shots fired in the area of 23rd Avenue and Vermont Street.
"My grandma stays on that block," he says. "She told me she was scared."
In response to a dispatcher's questions, the man says he stopped by his grandmother's house and heard the shots. They came from the east, he says.
A short time later, an officer dispatched to investigate the gunshots fired his police-issued firearm, killing Rashad Cunningham as Cunningham sat in a car with two other people in the area of 23rd Avenue and Kentucky Street, city officials said.
Authorities have not released details about what led the officer to shoot Cunningham.
Per department policy, Gary police turned the investigation over to the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff Oscar Martinez said Friday his officers were still investigating.
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After sheriff's police complete their work, they will turn the case over to the Lake County prosecutor's office for a determination on whether the shooting was justified.
Sources have identified the Gary officer as Isiah Price III. Records show Price was suspended for 30 days without pay in 2013 for punching a child in the stomach and lying to superiors about it.
Cunningham's family has repeatedly appealed to the Gary City Council for answers.
On Tuesday, Cunningham's mother, Tonia Simmons, told the council her son was "an innocent man" who was licensed to carry and shot dead in front of his home.
Heather Fox, the mother of Cunningham's 1-year-old son, said she has hired an attorney and continues to protest.
The family's requests for copies of 911 recordings have been denied, she said.
Fox said she had heard a copy of Price's call to dispatch advising he shot someone. A person with a police scanner recorded the call and shared it with her, she said.
That call was not released to The Times, because Lake County 911 denied part of its records request.
The agency withheld 911 communications between police and dispatch and individual officers on the grounds that they were part of an investigation and they are interagency advisory materials, said Tramel Raggs, attorney for Lake County 911.