Community Protests Autistic Teen's Death

Stephon Watts was shot twice by officers in his Calumet City home on Wednesday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Stephon Watts was shot twice by officers in his Calumet City home on Wednesday. (Published Thursday, Feb 2, 2012)

    An outraged community gathered Thursday evening to protest the death of 15-year-old Stephon Watts, shot dead in his own home by Calumet City police officers a day earlier.

    About 75 to 100 people, family members and civic and religious leaders, gathered outside the Calumet City Police Department headquarters, at 1200 Pulaski Road in the far south suburb, to protest officers' actions.

    "The one thing that we look for our police to do is serve and protect," said Alicia Murchison, one of the protesters who said she is also the mother of an autistic child. "To think of this is just unjustifiable."

    One protester shouted "Murderers! Murderers! Murderers!" as another called for the "immediate resignation" of the officers involved.

    The officers said they shot Watts after he ran toward them with a knife, but family members said officers had been to the family home, on the 500 block of Forsythe Avenue, several times in the past and used a Taser to control the boy.

    Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition and other groups are now working with the family.

    "It was a wrongful, unnecessary use of force, and it killed him without a chance," said Jackson.

    Chief Edward Gilmore has defended the officers' actions, saying they acted in self defense. Still, the pair of officers have been placed on leave with pay.

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