Chicago Police Department Add Fuel to the Fire

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Chicago Police Department
On Dec. 26, 2015, two officers from the Chicago Police Department shot and killed two people while responding to a domestic disturbance call, says CNN. The incident involving a 19-year-old student and a 55-year-old mother of five occurred near West Garfield Park at the 4700 block of West Erie Street in Chicago. Since the Chicago Police Department is already under investigation, this shooting only added fuel to the fire.

The call to the Chicago Police Department was made by Antonio LeGrier after he noticed his son, Quintonio, was a little agitated. LeGrier told The Chicago Sun-Times that he invited the young man to the family’s holiday gathering, but Quintonio chose to stay in his room instead. When LeGrier returned home, he heard a banging sound on his son’s bedroom door. His son said, “You’re not going to scare me.” Concerned, LeGrier called the police, then immediately called his tenant downstairs, Bettie Jones, and asked her to open the door for the police and to also warn her that his son was acting irate.

Jones told LeGrier that his son was outside with a baseball bat. When the police arrived, LeGrier heard Jones yell, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!” By the time he landed on the third step from the second floor, he heard the gunshots. Hands up in the air, LeGrier identified himself to the officers as the boy’s father. His son and Jones were lying in the foyer. His son was moving, but Jones was not. She had been shot in the neck.

LeGrier said that he saw a white or Hispanic officer from the Chicago Police Department standing 30 feet from the bodies, yelling, “F—, no, no, no. I thought he was lunging at me with the baseball bat.” LeGrier believed the dark-haired man knew he had made a mistake.

After LeGrier spoke to the Independent Police Review Authority and two civil rights lawyers, Chicago Police Department officials told him that Quintonio had called 911 before his father had made his call.

According to the boy’s mother, Janet Cooksey, her son had been shot in the buttocks, indicating that he had been turned away from the officers when they fired. The medical examiner told her that Quintonio suffered seven gunshots.

Jones’ daughter, Latisha, said her mother was shot from outside the building shortly after she opened the door for the officers. The daughter was awakened by the sound of gunshots. By the time she reached her mother, she could not feel her breathing. The victim was described by her friends and neighbors as a loving mother of five and a well-respected figure in the community.

One witness, Reverend Marshall Hatch, stood outside his New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and watched the two officers from the Chicago Police Department walk from the house. The men were yawning in their car before they left the scene, Hatch claims. He saw it as a sign of contempt for the unfortunate dead and their surviving friends and family. Hatch was incredulous and called the officers idiots. “All the spotlight on them and they shoot up this place? These people are out of control,” he said.

Jones was an unfortunate casualty, claims the Chicago Police Department. After what happened earlier this year, when officers were charged with murdering teenager Laquan McDonald last year, this incident only added fuel to the fire. There is much scrutiny as to why the officers did not invoke less evasive options, such as a taser gun, when young LeGrier did not display murderous intent. Their so called “overreaction” was more than a mere mistake, Cooksey told officials. She demanded a personal apology from the mayor.

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, issued a statement following the double fatality, and again after an unrelated incident in which another man was wounded in a shooting later that same day. Emanuel said, “Anytime an officer uses force, the public deserves answers, and regardless of the circumstances, we all grieve anytime there is a loss of life in our city. With that in mind, I have been informed that the Independent Police Review Authority has opened investigations into each shooting and that all evidence will be shared with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for additional review in the days ahead.”

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin says that this tragic incident demands answers. In his opinion, the careless shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones in his district is a prime example of a broken system. He further believes that this damage requires more than mayoral platitudes and task forces to be rectified. The Chicago Police Department officers are under investigation.

At this time, it is unknown as to why the police officers fired those shots, or what spurred such a violent reaction. According to The Chicago Reporter, the 11th district, where this incident took place, is one of the most violent and dangerous in Chicago. The combined murder rate for districts 15 and 11 equals 54 murders per one thousand residents, compared to the 51 recorded in nation-leading New Orleans.

The Chicago Police Department explains that their employees are expected to analyze situations quickly and determine the best resolution. The majority of these actions are favorable and the results are satisfactory. Officers are always facing danger, and as a result, they experience high levels of stress. Additionally, when the public feels it has not been treated with respect, they have the option to file a complaint. Despite the high-octane fuel that has been added to the already blazing fire, the Chicago Police Department continues to serve and protect to the best of their ability.

By Rowena Portch
Edited By Cathy Milne

CNN: 2 Killed in Latest Chicago Police Officer-Involved Shooting
Washington Post: Chicago Police Kill Emotionally Disturbed College Student, 55-year-old Woman
ABC News: 2 Killed in Chicago Police Shooting Identified
Chicago Reporter: If Chicago’s West and South Sides Were Their Own Cities
Chicago Sun-Times: Father of 19-Year-Old Killed by Chicago Police

Image Courtesy of Ingrid Richter’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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