Family and neighbors react to Chico Police shooting


Friends console the Phillips family for their loss. Photo credit: Sean Martens

George Johnston

Desmond Phillips died March 17 after police shot him while responding to a 911 call. Phillips was 25-years-old.

Desmond Phillips (far right) holding a member of his family. His father says Phillips was very religious and spent most of his time reading the Bible or watching his videos. Photo credit: Sean Martens

Chico police arrived at the Knoll apartments on West 4th Avenue after Phillips’ father, Dave Phillips called 911. Dave said his son was threatening him with a knife, something that had happened before. Phillips suffered from PTSD, Dave said.

Officers then entered Phillips’ apartment through the adjoining complexes to subdue him. They first tased Phillips, but he got up and started slashing at the police. Two officers fired at him. Phillips was rushed to Enloe Medical Center where he died from his wounds.

Janet Tu and her boyfriend Nick where home when they saw police lights coming up to their drive way. They both heard the taser go off and the gunshots, which they agreed sounded like 10 shots were fired. Tu didn’t really realize what was happening until she heard Dave screaming “you shot my son.”

“We gave our number to the family and said if they need any help from us we’re willing to give interviews and talk to anybody,” Tu said. “We want to spread the word it was an excessive amount of police force. The amount of police we saw was extreme.”

Andrew Perlinger, Phillips’ next door neighbor, was coming home from St. Patrick’s Day at 9 p.m. when he noticed his apartment complex was blocked by police. When Perlinger got into his apartment the next morning, he noticed several bullet holes. One bullet had gone through his TV and destroyed his microwave. Two bullets travelled through Perlinger’s living room and into his bedroom.

Andrew Perlinger has been living at Knoll Apartments for three months. He points to where one of the bullets traveld through his home Photo credit: Sean Martens

“There was a fat hole in my wall and I noticed the hole in my closet” Perlinger said. “I started realizing ‘wow, my house got shot up as well as the neighbor. We could have been harmed by stray bullets as well.’”

Perlinger said he didn’t sleep in his room on March 18 because he felt unsafe. Perlinger said he will be seeking damages from Chico Police.

“I feel like the city should have to pay for our damages.” Phillips said. “It’s the least they should do.”

Dave Phillips telling the events of March 17. Next to him was where the Chico Police tased his son, Desmond. Parts of the taser darts are still on the floor along with some of Desmond’s hair. Photo credit: Sean Martens

Dave Phillips struggles with what happened. He thinks the police overreacted to the situation. According to Dave, the bullets could have hit him, his grandchildren or Perlinger living next door.

Dave said Chico Police illegally broke into Perlinger’s apartment to remove the bullets.

He’s still coping with the loss of his son. “I got my family now,” Dave said. “This is keeping me and God. I know my son is in heaven.”

The Phillips family will hold a vigil at the Chico Police station at 6 p.m. March 19.

George Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or @gjohnston786 on Twitter.