Family Disputes Officer's Claims After Neighbors' Feud Turns Deadly

An elderly man died from his injuries and two women suffered non-life-threatening injuries

A 91-year-old Chicago woman shot following an altercation with her neighbors, one of which is an off-duty police officer, is disputing claims made by police about what led to the shooting that killed her husband and left another woman wounded.

“This family is grieving and they are hurting and there’s a story out there being told that’s not the truth,” attorney Brunell Donald-Kayei, who represents Hazel Jones, told reporters Thursday.

The shootings occurred at about 2:15 p.m. last Friday outside two homes in the 8400 block of South Carpenter.

According to a statement from Chicago Police, the officer was inside the home when he heard his wife and a female neighbor arguing. The officer said he went outside and witnessed the neighbor throwing dirt and rocks at his wife and hitting here with a broom.

At that point, police say the neighbor's husband, 86-year-old Joe Huff, came out with a shotgun and fired, hitting the officer's wife in the arm and head. At that point, the officer says he shot Huff, and when Huff's wife tried to pick up the shotgun, he shot her as well after she ignored a verbal order not to.

Huff died from his injuries and the two women suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An attorney representing Huff's wife, Jones, who was recently released from the hospital after being treated for three gunshot wounds, says there are several discrepancies between what the officer claims and what Jones recounted.

“This is a woman who’s fighting cancer, cholesterol, diabetes," Donald-Kayei said Thursday. "She takes zillions of pills a day and yet the police will have you believe that on the day in question she became Rambo, Arnold Schwarzenegger and all types of war heroes diving for a shotgun.”

Donald-Kayei claims that Jones did not throw dirt and rocks on her neighbor, but instead said the dirt and rocks were thrown at Jones by the neighbor. She also disputed the claim that Jones told her husband to "get that thing," referring to the shotgun.

Fraternal Order of Police President Pat Camden on the day of the shooting called the incident a "tragedy."

"The minute a shotgun gets involved and somebody pulls the trigger it goes from being a simple dispute to a tragedy," Camden said.

Relatives from both families have said the couples had been feuding for almost a decade, arguments that were mostly verbal, but on at least one occasion involved a shovel.

“This is not something that started on the one hot day afternoon. This is something that’s been brewing about 12 years,” Donald-Kayei said.

Family members stood behind Jones as she told reporters she’s “trying to be alright.”

“We’re just filled with mixed emotions,” said Huff’s granddaughter Ebony Huff. “We’re hurt, we’re sad, we’re angry, we’re enraged. We feel hopeless, not defeated.”

“I’ve done everything I could to try to prevent this,” said Jones' nephew Dennis Johnson. “I’ve had fences installed, I’ve had this property surveyed, but we tried to let all that go to keep peace. If you look you’ll see that.”

Jones, 91, was charged with one count of aggravated assault to a police officer and two counts of battery, all misdemeanors. Family members and Donald-Kayei say they plan to fight those charges.

“This is a fight, this is not some stunt, people’s lives have been devastated and we have a duty, police officers owe us a duty, prosecutors owe us a duty to do a thorough investigation before you throw charges on people,” Donald-Kayei said. “There’s always two sides to a story. We will get to the bottom of this.”

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