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'Messed Up' Police Shooting Kills 2, 1 Accidentally, Sparking Outrage

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Dec 27, 2015 2:45PM

Bettie Jones, via Facebook
The fatal police shooting of two people on the West Side of Chicago early Saturday morning has sparked outrage around the city and demands for answers from their family members.

Police officers were called to a West Garfield Park home, in the 4700 block of West Erie Street, in the early morning Saturday over a domestic disturbance. There, they fatally shot a 19-year-old engineering student, identified by the Tribune as Quintonio LeGrier. The officers were responded to a dispatch stating that a man had called the police to report that someone was threatening his life and banging on his bedroom door with a baseball bat.

The officers faced a "combative subject," according to a police statement, and one officers fired a gun. The gunfire fatally wounded both the 19-year-old and a 55-year-old mother of five, identified by the Tribune as Bettie Jones, who was a downstairs neighbor "accidentally struck and tragically killed," according to a statement released by authorities. "The department extends its deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends," the statement read.

The shootings mark the first time police have fatally shot someone in Chicago since before the release of the video of a cop fatally shooting Laquan McDonald brought new scrutiny down on police use of force. The police statement offers few details on how the two neighbors were fatally shot by the police, who have now been placed on a 30-day administrative leave, per a new police department protocol. The shooting will be investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority:

In reference to the incident that occurred in the 4700 block of West Erie Street, 11th District (Harrison) officers responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence. Upon arrival, officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon which fatally wounded two individuals. The 55 year old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed. The department extends it's deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

Currently, the specifics of this incident, including the comprehensive use of force investigation are being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority with the full cooperation of the CPD.

The officer(s) involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for a period of 30 days. This new policy which was implemented by Superintendent Escalante, will ensure separation from field duties while training and fitness for duty requirements can be conducted. Going forward, this will be standard protocol following all officer-involved shootings.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on the shootings Saturday night:

“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.”

The families of the two shooting victims expressed shock and dismay in interviews with reporters. LeGrier's father told the Tribune that he had "emotional issues" and trouble controlling his anger, but that he should not have lost his life over it. Relatives of Jones said they are demanding answers for the troubling accidental shooting. Jone's daughter, Latisha Jones, 19, told the Tribune she was woken up by the sound of gunfire and found her mother on the floor, with a neck wound from a bullet.

LeGrier's father, Antonio LeGrier, told the Sun-Times that he could see the officer who shot LeGrier knew that "he messed up" by shooting LeGrier and Jones.

“F—, no, no, no. I thought he was lunging at me with the [baseball] bat,” LeGrier said the officer yelled following the shooting that claimed the lives of college student Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie R. Jones.

“In my opinion, he knew he had messed up. It was senseless,” Antonio LeGrier, 47, said of the dark-haired officer who had fired. “He knew he had shot, blindly, recklessly into the doorway and now two people are dead because of it.”

Jones' death came on the heels of a family Christmas, relatives told reporters, in which about 15 family members were at her apartment to celebrate the holiday on Dec. 25.

The local anti-violence group Action Now described the shootings as murders in an impassioned statement released Saturday:

Our hearts have been broken anew as we share our condolences to the families of Bettie Jones and Quintanio Legrier. The execution squad, the Chicago Police Department, have stolen two more lives from our community.

Early Saturday morning Chicago police were called to respond to a domestic disturbance. Police shot through an unopened door and killed, Ms. Bettie Jones, mother of five that had just enjoyed a Christmas with her family a few hours beforehand. Officers then turned their weapons onto a young man suffering from mental illness holding a baseball bat.

Bettie Jones, an Action Now member, posed no threat to police officers. She was trying to cooperate. Quintanio Legrier needed obvious psychiatric help. Chicago police officers on the scene executed a mother and her young neighbor.

Recent cases and released videos show a culture of excessive force and a shoot first and cover it up culture within Chicago's police department. They are killing people, mostly Black people whether or not they cooperate. They are aided by the state's attorney and mayor's offices determined to assist officers that abuse and murder the very citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

We are demanding more than a full and transparent investigation into the murders of Bettie Jones and Quintanio Lagrier. We are demanding authentic justice. The so-called "criminal justice" system is a farce, when people who are supposed to protect have become the perpetrators. The entire system needs to be changed, from the racist, unjust policies to the people who enforce them.

The group BYP 100 is holding a vigil for Bettie Jones at 2 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Erie Street and Kilpatrick Avenue.

Jahmal Cole, a Chicagoan who says Bettie Jones was his wife's aunt, wrote a somber response to the shooting on Facebook Saturday night urging readers not to hate CPD:

My wife's aunt, Bettie Jones, was shot and killed today by Chicago Police. I do not know all the details surrounding the shooting, but I do know that Bettie was a good spirited person, and she touched the lives of many people. I'm tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust for all Police because the injustice of such an act, but I know we have to make an effort to get beyond these difficult times in our City. What we need in Chicago is not division, hate or violence. What we need in Chicago is compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those that still suffer in our City. Whether they live in North Lawndale or River North. Austin or the Gold Coast. ‚Ä™#‚ÄéMyBlockMyHoodMyCity