As questions grow about a police-involved shooting where a 55-year-old bystander was killed, the City of Chicago announced what the mayor’s office called “two significant policy steps,” related to police shootings and procedures for interceding in domestic violence situations.
Saturday morning, 55-year-old Bettie Jones was shot and killed in a flurry of gunfire directed at a 19-year-old-man armed with a baseball bat at a two story home on Chicago’s west side. That man, Quentonio LeGrier, also died, shot seven times.
“She didn’t do anything to nobody,” said Jones’ daughter Latisha. “All she did was answer her front door!”
Chicago Police have given few details about the incident, saying that the officers were responding to a 911 call made by LeGrier’s father, after an argument with his son. Police said in a statement, that arriving officers were confronted by a “combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon,” and that “the female victim was accidentally struck.”
“I feel like I just want to wake up and have my mom say, ‘Girl, that was a dream,’” said Jones daughter Latarsha. “But I can’t. She’s gone. She was murdered.”
Effective immediately, the city says officers involved in shootings will be removed from street duty for a minimum of 30 days while those shootings are investigated.
“I was really pleased to see that,” said Sharon Fairley, the acting chief of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency responsible for investigating police shootings. “I definitely think that’s a step in the right direction.”
Fairley acknowledged public dissatisfaction with the length of time many police shooting investigations can take. But she defended her agency’s work, saying it was most important that those investigations were done correctly.
“These matters are always serious,” she said. “These investigations can be extremely complex, and there can be valid reasons that they can be extended in time.”
At the same time, Fairly acknowledged that she is stepping into leadership at IPRA, at a time when public outrage over police shootings may be at an all-time high.
“It’s a lot of pressure, there’s no question,” she said. “Stepping into this job at this time in this firestorm, it certainly isn’t easy. But I have to put all that aside and focus on the work and getting the work done.”
Attorney Sam Adam Jr., who represents Jones’ family, questioned why it was necessary for police to fire at a subject armed only with a baseball bat.
“The shell casings, many of them, are found down by the street on the sidewalk, which would suggest that is at least 25 feet away,” Adam said.
In an obvious reference to the domestic investigation where the two were shot early Saturday morning, the mayor’s office announced in a statement Monday that the city would embark on a complete review of crisis intervention policies.
“The Mayor has called on them to determine the deficiencies in the current training or policies,” that statement said, “and outline what steps can be taken immediately to address them.”
Emanuel’s office announced Monday he was cutting a Cuban vacation short, to return to Chicago and manage the latest crisis confronting his Police Department. Fairley would not comment specifically about the investigation into the Saturday morning shootings, emphasizing instead, that she has embarked in a top to bottom review of her agency and its investigations into allegations of police wrongdoing.
“I’m not about finger pointing,” she said. “What I’m focused on, is how are we going to fix it? What are the policies and procedures and training that we can put in place, to get the ship going in the right direction?”