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CHICAGO (AP) — Grieving relatives and friends of two people shot and killed by Chicago police said Sunday the slayings raised concerns about why officers “shoot first and ask questions later,” saying the city failed residents even as a federal civil rights investigation has begun scrutinizing police practices.

Quintonio LeGrier, 19, was killed early Saturday by police responding to a domestic disturbance at an apartment on the city’s West Side, along with downstairs neighbor Bettie Jones, 55. Police said Jones was hit accidentally by the gunfire.

Both were black. The shootings came amid scrutiny of police after a series of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of officers across the country gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, during a vigil Sunday placed candles on the porch of the two-story home, where Jones lived in a ground-floor apartment and LeGrier’s father’s in an upstairs unit. On either side of the door, Post-It notes indicated where two bullets hit siding on the house.

“I used to watch the news daily and I would grieve for other mothers, other family members, and now today I’m grieving myself,” Cooksey said at a news conference outside the residence earlier Sunday. She wore a black shirt with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s image on it and the phrase “Rahm Failed Us.”

Others who spoke said police should have used stun guns or other nonlethal methods if they felt they needed to subdue LeGrier, a college student home for holiday break.

“Why do (police) have to shoot first and ask questions later?” Jacqueline Walker, a friend of Jones, asked. “It’s ridiculous.”

Some who showed up to support the families of Jones and LeGrier questioned how such shootings could occur while federal investigators are focusing on the Chicago Police Department, including a look at whether there are patterns of racial disparity in the use of force.

“Something is seriously wrong,” said the Rev. Marshall E. Hatch, who attended the vigil. “How in the middle of all this scrutiny, (can you) have a trigger-happy policeman?”

The Police Department said in a statement Saturday that officers who responded to a 911 call “were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon.”

“The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed,” according to the statement, which extended “deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.”

Jones, a mother of five known for working with community groups committed to reducing violence, had hosted family on Christmas Day, friends and relatives said.

Family spokesman Eric Russell said Jones’ many grandchildren had hoped to thank her for their Christmas gifts over the weekend. “They were denied that opportunity,” he said.

Jones and LeGrier were pronounced dead at hospitals, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Police did not disclose the race of the officer or officers, saying only that those involved will be placed on administrative duties. It isn’t clear how many officers responded, how many used their firearms and how many times LeGrier and Jones were struck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Sunday said only that the shootings are being investigated by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, the main police oversight agency. IPRA spokesman Larry Merritt declined comment Sunday.

LeGrier’s cousin, Albert Person, said LeGrier’s father had invited his son to a holiday gathering at another home on Christmas. Person said the son’s refusal to go caused friction, but didn’t lead to a serious argument.

“What family doesn’t fight on the holidays?” he said.

Antonio LeGrier told the Chicago Sun-Times his son appeared to be a “little agitated” when the father returned to the apartment. Around 4:15 a.m., the elder LeGrier said he heard loud banging on his locked bedroom door and that his son said, “You’re not going to scare me.” He said his son tried to bust the door open, but he kept him from doing so and called police. He added that he called Jones on the floor below to say his son was a “little irate” and not to open the door unless police arrived.

He said Jones told him his son was outside with a baseball bat.

When police arrived, Antonio LeGrier said he heard Jones yell, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” He said he heard gunshots as he made his way down from the second floor and saw his son and Jones lying in the foyer.

He told the newspaper his son had emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. LeGrier described him as a “whiz kid” on break from Northern Illinois University, where he majored in electrical engineering technology.

Cooksey denied that her son ever exhibited “combative behavior.” She said he “might’ve been angry with his father and they might’ve got into it,” but that he was not angry or violent.

It’s not clear whether Jones tried to intervene before being shot or if she was hit by gunfire while answering the door.

Person said it would have been in Jones’ character to attempt to help the young man if he were in peril.

Person and the Jones family lawyers, Larry R. Rogers Sr. and Sam Adam Jr., said it appeared that police shot at a distance.

Adam said police took the hard drive of a home-security camera from across the street, but it was unknown if it or other cameras in the neighborhood captured the shootings.

Emanuel’s office said in a statement Saturday that IPRA would share its evidence with the county prosecutor’s office.

“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,” Emanuel said in the statement.

The federal civil rights investigation was launched after last month’s release of police dashcam video showing white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

About 100 neighbors, activists, politicians and others attended the vigil responding to the killings of Jones and LeGrier. Someone held a sign that read, “Stop Killing Us,” and several people chanted, “This is not an accident!”

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15 thoughts on “Two Killed In Fatal Police Shooting In Chicago; City, Families React

  1. African American Woman on said:

    Cherl, it’s not the media’s job to monitor us. Its our job, and no, the level of noise related to our own internal destruction is was waaaaaaay to quiet in relation to police shootings. The media doesn’t focus on us killing us because we don’t focus on us killing us. Now if we created a BLM movement to save ourselves from ourselves and conducted marches, protests and bonfires, there would be media coverage, but just like the news doesn’t focus on every day events that seem to be part of the everyday fabric of our communities because we dont! We have to be responsible for ourselves and stop looking outward. Has looking outward changed anything yet???? HELL NO and it never will.,

    • African American Woman on said:

      Hey Special, the officer’s name is Saniyyah Jones and the man she killed was Thomas Hennelly. He was unarmed and on the ground when she shot him. She admitted that she didn’t see a gun and was still on the job over a year later until the man’s fiance sued the department.

  2. African American Woman on said:

    Jackie, I agree with you in the context that when we kill each other like open deer season, we dismiss it saying that there are all kinds of excuses for why one black human being picks up a weapon and kills another black human being. Poverty, racism, slavery, and Jim crow all existed together and we didn’t kill each other like we do today. Excuses never did anything but add to the problem. Some people will always be in denial. However, I understand that police shootings in the black communities have become more prevalent. The issue is that when it happens, we don’t ask what happened, we automatically cry racism, let’s burn this motha down! When a black person shoots down a child or innocent black man of woman, not so much as a peep is made. We should be as equally enraged at the ones of us who hurt us, our communities and our families on a daily basis just as we get enraged when a cop shoots one of us. Not to comparr, but to contrast; there was a black female cop in Phila who shot an unarmed white man hiding under a truck. The only reason she was questioned about it over a year later was because the man’s daughter’s mother went to the media…same thing also happened in Delaware county and Atlantic city…maybe it’s a cop thing??? Cops come in all colors, you know.

  3. I grew up near Chicago and I always heard about the drug and gang wars with the Vice Lords and the
    Kings Men (or something like that) in school, I don’t remember a lot of it on the news. Now it is everywhere, everyday. I think it was swept under the rug in the 80’s until things started getting out of control. I cant recall gangsters killing moms and innocent children back in the day. Maybe it just wasn’t televised, police brutality surely was not.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    Unfortunately some people will never understand. It’s not that one situation is any worse than the other, they all affect the black community in a detrimental way. It doesn’t matter whether “we” march for one and not the other, our concerns should be focused on how we can change the outcomes. What can we do to stop both scenarios from happening in record numbers? Don’t dismiss the trigger happy actions of racists cops by saying we kill each other. Accept that both are wrong and move toward finding a solution. Get your head out of the sand by thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility, it starts and end with us, all of us.

  5. There is a war on terrorism, there is a war on drugs, there is a war on everything in America. But the police in cities and states in this country believe that there is a war on unarmed African Americans and people behind their doors when the bullets start flying.

    Eenie meenie miney mo catch an ISIS sympathizer at your door. If he hollers shoot him multiple times and save the ones who will fight with you and not against you, as proof, World War I, World II, The Korean conflict, The Vietnam War, The American Revolution and the Civil War on both sides.

    Policeman everywhere we are not the enemy in the alley with a baseball bat. And we all wonder how we can keep from going under. Your going home after your shift and us being alive after your ‘shoot first, think later’ attitude has got to stop, right now if not yesterday.

  6. Jackie, black on black crime stems from poverty, poor education systems, and the lack of hope and opportunity in our communities. That is an issue that needs to be addressed from the inside out on a much larger scale. However we are also being killed in record numbers by the people who are supposed to be trained to protect us, the people who are to uphold our civil rights and keep us safe, the people who earn their salaries based off our taxes and yet they are the people that we fear most. It is institutional slavery and has become open season on black men, women and children and accepted by society. So it isn’t that one killing is any worse than the next by the issue is that one of the killings should not be happening at all.

    • Jackie Parks on said:

      If that be the case, then why are you not marching and protesting when any black unarmed person is killed. My point is march and protests no matter who killed them. If they were murder unjust, then you need to get out and say something about it. Not just when it is done by the police.

  7. Jackie Parks on said:

    I do not understand my people. Black men and women are killed everyday by other black men and women, and nobody says or do anything about it,, but just as soon as one is killed by the police, we all take to the streets with protesting and marching. Is this the only time that black lives matters?

    • straightnochaser on said:

      And white people and Hispanic people also do the same everyday, but it seems like UNARMED black people are the ones who are being killed by these trigger happy police. Either you’re one of those plantation minded, Jim crow era thinking negros who CHOOSE not to have a clue, or you’re a racist ignoramus trolling for attention. Either way, you’re a brain dead idiot.

      • Jackie Parks on said:

        You are missing the point altogether. What are you doing when the drug dealer shoots and kill the little boy ,who was playing outside in the yard? Are you marching and protesting? No, I don’t see you in site. Then, why are you carrying on when “Lil Man” is shot by the police for running away? Does “Lil Man” life matters more than that little boy?

    • Actually Jackie…..there are vigils, marches , prayer services, they have tried gang summits ALL to end ”black on black” crime, it is a major misconception that BLACK people don’t get upset, it is just that the police nor the media care. so you will probably NEVER see a march to end gang violence, then there is the JUSTICE factor, many black on black perps get their just die swiftly….whereas many non Blacks kill blacks and walk away…

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