News & Politics

Chicago Police Shoot and Kill Mother of Five

Bettie Jones was in another unit after police responded to a domestic dispute call from the father of Quintonio Legrier, who was also killed by police.

Chicago police accidentally killed a 55-year-old mother of five early Saturday when responding to a domestic disturbance, according to a police statement late Saturday.

“The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed,” the statement said. “The department extends it’s [sic] deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.”

Bettie Jones was one of two victims killed by police in the incident. The other victim was Quintonio Legrier, 19, whose father lived in another unit in the building and reportedly called the police.

The shooting occurred at about 4.25am on Saturday when police were responding to a domestic disturbance call in the building where they live, according to police and family members.

“Upon arrival, officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon, fatally wounding two individuals,” the Chicago police department said in a release.

The police dispatcher told officers that a “male caller said someone is threatening his life”.

“It’s also coming in as a domestic,” the dispatcher continued. “The 19-year-old son is banging on his bedroom door with a baseball bat.”

The police did not say whether any weapons had been recovered at the scene. They also did not specify how many officers were involved in the shooting.

“The officer(s) involved will be place on routine administrative duties for a period of 30 days,” police said.

“My son was going somewhere,” Cooksey told the Chicago Tribune. “He wasn’t just a thug on the street.”

She was not present at the time of the shooting, but said Legrier’s father called the police because their son was agitated. Neighbors and family members told local reporters that the 19-year-old was carrying a metal baseball bat.

“We’re thinking the police are going to service us, take him to the hospital,” she said. “They took his life.”

Jones’s daughter, Latisha, told reporters that she was woken up by gunfire and found her mother on the floor of her apartment with a gunshot wound to the neck. Jones was pronounced dead at Loretto hospital at 4.51am, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Katelyn Johnson, executive director of the community activist group Action Now, said in a statement that Jones was a member of the group. Johnson said Jones “posed no threat to police officers”.

She called for a full and transparent investigation into the deaths.

“We are demanding authentic justice,” Johnson said. “The so-called ‘criminal justice’ system is a farce, when people who are supposed to protect have become the perpetrators. The entire system needs to be changed, from the racist, unjust policies to the people who enforce them.”

She said the shooting was representative of the police department’s “culture of excessive force and a shoot first and cover it up culture”.

Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin, who represents the west side of Chicago, called the shooting “one more example of a broken system” on Saturday afternoon.

“At this point, we are confronted with a series of unanswered and deeply troubling questions,” Boykin said. “Why did the officers on the scene need to resort to the use of their firearms to subdue a young man with a bat? Why weren’t the officers equipped with tasers so that Quintonio could be subdued without lethal force?

“How, during an officer response, did a 55-year-old mother of five come to be struck dead by bullets?”

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on Saturday night.

“Anytime an officer uses force the public deserves answers, and regardless of the circumstances we all grieve anytime there is a loss of life in our city,” Emanuel said.

He said that all evidence from the investigation will be shared with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for review.

Earlier this month, the US Justice Department said that it would investigate the police department for civil rights violations. The announcement came after the CPD released a video showing a white officer shooting a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times in 2014. Critics were outraged that the video was not released until more than a year after the incident even though footage contradicted the earlier police account of the incident.

CPD directed all further inquiries to the Independent Police Review Authority, a civilian committee that oversees the CPD and is investigating the incident.

IPRA spokesman Larry Merritt said that he was unsure how long the investigation would take.

“The incident just happened this morning, so we’re still trying to ferret out the details,” he said Saturday. “I can’t tell you if it will be six months or a year, I really don’t know.”

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