CHICAGO — A woman who was reportedly wielding a knife when she was fatally shot by police Friday night had a long history of mental illness, according to her friends and family.
Police say 55-year-old Michele Robey was threatening people with a knife and destroying merchandise inside a CVS in the North Center area when police arrived to find her at a bust stop outside just after 6 p.m. Friday night.
Officers reportedly tried to taser her twice, but it didn’t work, and said when Robey lunged at them with a 4-inch blade, they each fired one shot, hitting her twice. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died.
The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled her death was a homicide caused by a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Neige Thompson lives in Robey’s building and also considered her a friend. She said Robey had been upset about a blow-up with her 20-year-old son, and openly talked about her struggles with mental illness.
“Three days, four days ago, she came in sat down on the sofa and she was crying nonstop,” Thompson said.
Thompson said Robey also admitted she recently stopped taking her medication.
“She told me she wasn’t taking it lately because of financial issues,” Thompson said.
Robey’s mother said she had a masters in psychology, and once worked to educate families on how to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, and that her life’s mission was to serve others. But after she was diagnosed with late onset bipolar disorder with sczhoprehnic tendencies about eight years ago, Robey’s mother said she lost her job shortly after.
“For about 17 years she told me she was really stable,” Thompson said. “I think when she lost everything, her financial stability, is when she got emotionally distressed,” Thompson said.
Robey’s mother says her daughter had been institutionalized and was hospitalized twice in January. The heartbroken mom questions how her daughter’s life ended as it did.
“I do not understand how she could not have been apprehended without excessive force. She’s one woman,” Robey’s mother said.
The incident is now under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority and the two officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave for 30 days.