West Side

‘Police Shoot Without Asking': Families of Mother, NIU Student Killed by Police Speak Out

The families of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier held a news conference outside the home where the two were shot and killed by police, remembering their loved ones and calling for action

Family members of two people killed by Chicago police officers spoke out Sunday afternoon, a day after the shooting, questioning why police resorted to firing their weapons at all.

Family and community members spoke about 55-year-old Bettie Jones and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier outside the home on the 4700 block of West Erie where they were shot, most wearing shirts with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's picture, saying "Rahm Failed Us."

“Bettie was a loving person that loved music and loved church. The night of Christmas everybody was playing spades, drinking, having fun, celebrating Christmas like many Chicago families,” said Jahmal Cole, Bettie Jones’ nephew. “She should not have to come outside, open the door and be shot down by a police officer.”

LeGrier and Jones were fatally wounded, Jones accidentally, by Chicago police officers at around 4:25 a.m. Saturday as officers were responding to a call of a domestic disturbance on the city's West Side, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Office of News Affairs.

Neighbors and family members at the scene said that the domestic disturbance stemmed from LeGrier threatening his father with a metal baseball bat. He was a sophomore honor student at Northern Illinois University studying engineering. 

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement Saturday evening confirming that Jones, the second shooting vicitm, was a casualty, saying she was "accidentally struck and tragically killed. The department extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends."

A vigil was held Sunday for Jones and LeGrier. It was attended by Rev. Jesse Jackson, connected their deaths to "a practice, a pattern" of unnecessary police shootings.

The shooting comes as Chicago grapples with police reform in the wake of newly released videos showing deadly police shootings that have sparked a national outcry. Chicago officer James van Dyke faces murder charges in the shooting of Laquan McDonald; video of the shooting ultimately led to widespread protests and the ouster of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Sunday evening, Mayor Emanuel called for a review of and changes in "how officers respond to mental health crises," which interim CPD Superintendent John Escalante promptly announced his support for.

'Don’t start shooting people, innocent people'
Speaking at a news conference Sunday, Jones’ childhood friend Jacqueline Walker described growing up with Jones, becoming emotional when posing questions about the death of “a beautiful woman.”

“Police shoot without asking. Why you got to shoot first and ask questions later? It’s ridiculous,” she yelled. “What about the Taser? Taser him down, don’t start shooting people, innocent people.”

LeGrier’s mother Janey Cooksey reflected on memories of her son, showing photos of the two of them together.

“My son was a good child,” Cooksey said. “He was a child that wanted things. He always said ‘mama I’m have millions cause you know I’m going to work hard and study hard.’”

“I used to watch the news daily and I would grieve for other mothers, other family members,” Cooksey continued. “And now today I’m grieving myself. When do it come to an end? When do we get answers?”

“Seven times my son was shot, one in the buttocks,” she added. “That showed that he was turning away.”

“If you’re afraid of these streets to the point that you got to shoot first, you need to turn your badge in,” said Betty Turner, LeGrier’s great aunt.

Police to further invesitgate the shooting
Protest organizer Ja’Mal Green appealed to Mayor Emanuel, who has been roundly criticized over how the shootings have been handled.

“I want the mayor to understand that this is a message to you. You failed us before but now is your time to step up, or step down," Green said.

The shooting occurred after police were "confronted by a combative individual," Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy said in a press conference Saturday morning said. "The matter is under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority and further questions regarding this matter should be directed to them," he added.

The Cook County medical examiner's office said the two were pronounced dead at different area hospitals within an hour.

Jones' daughter Latesha Jones said that police shot the mother of five from outside the home, where she has resided for a year and a half, after she opened the door, the Sun-Times reported. Jones' family told NBC 5 they plan to file a lawsuit. 

Less than 12 hours later, a second police-involved shooting left another man injured on Chicago's South Side.

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