Families of victims in Chicago police shooting demand answers

ByDiane Pathieu and Evelyn Holmes via WLS logo
Sunday, December 27, 2015
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Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and Bettie Jones, 55, were killed in a police shooting.

CHICAGO -- A 55-year-old woman who was accidentally shot by Chicago police was celebrating Christmas with her family at her home in West Garfield Park when the shooting occurred.

Bettie Jones, 55, a grandmother, was killed early Saturday when police responded to a 911 call from a father who lived in the same building about his 19-year-old son acting erratic and wielding an aluminum bat, police said. The teen, Quintonio LeGrier, was also killed when police opened fire. Jones was the downstairs tenant in the building.

Police have acknowledged that Jones was shot accidentally. She was shot in the chest, according to autopsy results. However, families for both victims are demanding answers, questioning whether the shooting was warranted.

"She should not have had to open her door and be shot down by a Chicago police officer," said Jones' nephew, Jahmal Cole, during a Sunday press conference.

The mother of five, who loved church and music, will be remembered during a vigil at 2 p.m. Sunday in front of the apartment where Jones was killed in the 4700 block of West Erie in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.

Cole added that while it's tempting to feel hatred for police, he said it's time for better communication between police and the community. He said community members need to also step up.

"I do believe that people need to join block clubs and know their neighbors," Cole said. "I think we need to show compassion for life in Chicago."

LeGrier, the 19-year-old who was fatally shot, was a Northern Illinois University student. His mother, Janet Cooksey, said he had a mental illness, but said he was never violent. She said her son was shot seven times, including once in the buttocks. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office confirmed Sunday that he was shot multiple times.

Police said LeGrier was charging downstairs toward police with the bat.

"When is the mayor going to step up because we can't get no help from the police," Cooksey said during the press conference. "CPD has failed us over and over."

Family and friends of both victims gathered for the Sunday press conference, demanding more accountability from the police department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The shooting comes after weeks of demonstrations in Chicago over police brutality following the release of a video last month showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald in October 2014.

LeGrier was remembered as a cheerful honor student who shared inspirational quotes with his mother daily.

"I used to watch the news daily and grieve for other mothers and family members," Cooksey said. "Today, I am grieving myself. When does it end? ... No mother should have to bury her child, especially under these circumstances."

The family of Jones has hired an attorney.

Cooksey said LeGrier's father was meeting with an attorney on Sunday.

New policy implemented by the interim police superintendent after other police-involved shootings were called into question, requires officers involved in shootings to be on administrative duties for 30 days.

While the mayor is on vacation in Cuba, his office released a statement reacting to both shootings that reads in part: "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. All evidence will be shared with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for additional review in the days ahead."

Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush also released a statement in response to Saturday's shootings.

"Why weren't tasers used in this incident?" the statement read. "Why were shots fired before other de-escalating tactics were employed? Why does shooting someone to death seem to be the default tactics of the city's police force? These questions and many others require immediate answers."