Police responding to a call about a domestic disturbance shot and killed a 19-year-old engineering student and a 55-year-old mother of five, and authorities acknowledged late Saturday that the woman had been shot by accident.
The families of both victims demanded answers after the deaths, which were the first fatal shootings by Chicago police officers since last month’s release of a 2014 video of Laquan McDonald’s death put a national spotlight on the city.
The Police Department said its officers responded to a home in West Garfield Park around 4:30 a.m. and were “confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon, fatally wounding two individuals.”
The 19-year-old, Quintonio LeGrier, was carrying a baseball bat and threatening his father when police were called, according to police dispatch radio traffic. No gun was recovered at the scene, a police source said.
The woman who was killed, Bettie Jones, was a downstairs neighbor who had been asked by LeGrier’s father to keep an eye out for the arrival of the police, according to both families.
Police have not offered anything more, but according to LeGrier’s kin:
LeGrier had struggled with mental health issues in recent months, had become agitated and was carrying a metal bat in his father’s upstairs apartment, relatives said.
“His father was scared because that’s not his character,” said LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, 49, who was not present at the time of the shooting.
LeGrier’s father told his neighbor Jones downstairs not to approach his son while watching for police, family members said.
Responding officers were told by a dispatcher that a “male caller said someone is threatening his life. It’s also coming in as a domestic. The 19-year-old son is banging on his bedroom door with a baseball bat.”
Neighbors said that the cops were about 20 feet away from the entrance to the apartment when one of them opened fire, and charge that the officer used excessive force. That determination will fall to the Independent Police Review Authority, which is investigating.
At the same time the police confirmed that the West Side woman was killed by accident, they also announced a major policy shift: All officers involved in shootings will be placed on routine administrative duties for 30 days.
The new policy is a dramatic change from the current requirement that officers have to come off active duty for three days.
That policy change follows weeks of unrest prompted by the release of the McDonald video.