'Accidental' Police Shooting That Killed 2 Spurs Mental Health Policy Revamp
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Dec 28, 2015 4:22PM
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: LaTonya Jones, the daughter of Bettie Jones holds a picture of her mother during a vigil outside her home on December 27, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Bettie Jones was shot and killed yesterday at the front door of her home by police responding to a domestic dispute call made by her upstairs neighbor. Quintonio LeGrier, was also killed by police during the incident. The father of LeGrier, a 19-year-old college student who was home for the holidays, called police when his son was being unruly in the family home. Police have said Jones's death was an accident. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Two neighbors were tragically shot dead by a police officer early Saturday morning, in an incident that began with a domestic disturbance call and has since brought new scrutiny on how the police respond with lethal force in a crisis.
Since the shootings, the police department has described the shooting death of one neighbor, the 55-year-old Bettie Jones, as an accident and extended condolences to her family. The family of the other shooting victim, Quintonio LeGrier, said he was going through mental health problems and should not have been shot.
Facing calls for a more substantial response to the shootings, the city announced plans to revamp how the police department handles mental health crisis intervention Sunday night.
The directive calls for the Independent Police Review Authority to immediately review CPD's Crisis Intervention Team, which specifically addresses how officers should respond to calls for service when someone is having a mental health crisis.
"There are serious questions about yesterday’s shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "While their investigation is underway, we must also make real changes within our police department today and it is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental health crises."
The statement said the police review authority has been tasked with finding deficiencies in the police department's current training program and come up with a plan to change them.
Acting police chief John Escalante said he strongly supports the initiative, and that Chicagoans deserve "comfort and safety" from their police force.
LeGrier's father, Antonio LeGrier, told the reporters that the teenager had "emotional issues" and trouble controlling his anger, but that he should not have been killed. He also told the Sun-Times that he could see the officer who shot LeGrier knew that "he messed up."
“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.”
It appears police believed LeGrier had a bat and was violent when they responded to a call at his West Garfield Park apartment building early Saturday morning, but there are few details on what exactly transpired.
Jones' family attorney told the Tribune that she was shot after answering her door, and several bullet shell casings were found on the sidewalk at least 20 feet from her front door. She was found lying on the floor in her apartment, and LeGrier was found lying "halfway between the vestibule and Jones' apartment after the shooting. The medical examiner's office said he died of "multiple gunshot wounds."