US police shootings of blacks continue with two deaths in Chicago
Chicago police officer kills two people, including black 55-year-old mother of five
10:30PM GMT 27 Dec 2015
Both victims were black and shot as police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance but the race of policeman was not disclosed
Chicago was braced on Sunday night for further protests after a 55-year-old black mother-of-five was "accidentally struck and tragically killed" by police responding to a call.
Bettie Jones died along with 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who was also black, in the early hours of Saturday morning. But a neighbour said she was not involved in any disturbance.
“She had nothing to do with this,” he said. “She was just answering the door to the police.”
Janet Cooksey, the teenager's mother, staged an impromptu press conference on Sunday afternoon outside the house where he was shot.
"This needs to stop," she said. "No mother should have to bury her child." She said her son was shot seven times.
After the news conference, about 100 people including neighbours and religious leaders held a vigil in neighborhood streets, with many saying they did not trust the police to be truthful about what happened.
"We are under siege here in Chicago," said Ira Acree, pastor of the Greater St. John Bible Church. "Trigger-happy cops are still engaged in senseless murders of people of colour."
LeGrier’s father Antonio said that he had returned to the flat they shared in Chicago’s West Side and found his son “a little agitated”. The father locked himself in his bedroom and went to bed, but his son tried to burst in to the room and so Mr LeGrier called the police, telling his downstairs neighbour Ms Jones not to open the door to anyone except police.
At around 4.30am Mr LeGrier heard gunshots, and went downstairs to see his son and Ms Jones lying on the ground. Both were pronounced dead in hospital.
And Mr LeGrier said the policeman, whose race was not given, immediately knew he had made a mistake.
“In my opinion, he knew he had messed up,” said Mr LeGrier, 47. “It was senseless.”
He told the Chicago Sun Tribune he heard the officer shout: “F---, no, no, no. I thought he was lungeing at me with the baseball bat.”
The teenage victim was described by his family as “loud” but not violent.
His mother, Ms Cooksey, said he graduated from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago and "was going somewhere".
Chicago police issued a statement, extending “deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends".
The statement said the officer or officers involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for 30 days as a result of the shooting.
But their deaths come at a tense time for city, which is currently the focus of nationwide anger at police shootings.
On Christmas Eve, protesters from Black Lives Matter blockaded the city’s main shopping streets as part of a campaign calling for the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to resign. The Chicago police department is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, which came after the release of a video showing a white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The city’s police chief was fired by Mr Emanuel on December 1.
“The use of excessive force and misuse of authority is not new in Chicago or isolated only to Chicago,” said Mr Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff, and one of the country’s most high profile mayors. “For whatever progress we have made, the killing of Laquan McDonald is a vivid reminder that we have much more work to do.”
But Mrs Jones’s family said there was “a whole lot of anger” at her death.
Melvin Jones, her brother, said that more than a dozen family members celebrated Christmas together, and that Ms Jones – mother of four daughters and a son, ranging in age from 19-year-old twins to a 38-year-old, "had an excellent Christmas".
Mr Jones said he was "numb right now".
He added: “There’s a whole lot of anger, a whole lot of tears."