Chicago Police: Woman accidentally killed by officer

Sunday, December 27, 2015
Melvin Jones, facing camera, hugs Robin Andrews, both brothers of Bettie Jones, 55, in Jones' living room after she was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer Saturday. (Abel Uribe ~ Chicago Tribune)

CHICAGO -- A Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday accidentally shot and killed a 55-year-old woman, who was among two people fatally wounded, police said late Saturday.

Relatives said Bettie Jones lived downstairs from Quintonio LeGrier, the 19-year-old subject of the initial call to police, who also was killed by the officer.

Officers who responded to the call "were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon," the Chicago Police Department said in a brief statement.

"The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed," reads the statement, which extends "deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends."

The shooting happened about 4:25 a.m., police said. The Cook County medical examiner's office and family members said LeGrier, a 19-year-old college student, was pronounced dead at a hospital at 4:51 a.m. and Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five, died at another hospital a short time later.

LeGrier and Jones were black, the medical examiner's office said. Police did not disclose the race of the officer, how long the officer has been with the department or the officer's work status.

The shooting comes amid a federal civil-rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department launched after last month's release of police dashcam video showing white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

LeGrier's father said he had invited his son to a family gathering before the shooting but the younger man chose not to go. Antonio LeGrier said when he returned to his second-floor apartment early Saturday, his son appeared to be a "little agitated."

The elder LeGrier said he heard banging on his locked bedroom door about 4:15 a.m., and his son said, "You're not going to scare me." He said his son tried to break the door open, but he kept him from doing so and called police.

The father said he called Jones, who lived a floor below, and warned her his son was a "little irate" and not to open the door unless police arrived. He said Jones told him she saw his son outside with a baseball bat.

When police arrived, Antonio LeGrier said he heard Jones yell, "Whoa, Whoa Whoa!"

He said he heard gunshots as he made his way down from the second floor and saw his son and Jones lying in the foyer.

Jones' daughter, Latisha Jones, said she woke up when she heard gunshots. She said she walked to the front door and saw her mother bleeding on the ground.

Antonio LeGrier said police later told him that Quintonio LeGrier was shot seven times, and he had called 911 before his father did.

Chicago police on Saturday afternoon referred requests for additional comment to the Independent Police Review Authority, the city's main police oversight agency. IPRA spokesman Larry Merritt said the agency was investigating an officer-involved shooting but said it was "very early on in the investigation" and he couldn't release further details. Autopsies, which would determine how many times LeGrier and Jones were shot, were not scheduled Saturday, medical examiner's office spokeswoman Becky Schlikerman said.

It is not clear from the initial police statement whether there are any video recordings of the shooting.

Antonio LeGrier told the Sun-Times that his son had emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. "Did it warrant him getting shot and killed? I don't believe it," the elder LeGrier said.

LeGrier described his son as a "whiz kid" and said he was home on holiday break from Northern Illinois University, where he majored in electrical engineering technology.

LeGrier's mother, Janet Cooksey, told the Chicago Tribune that despite her son's issues, police didn't have to react the way they did.

"We're thinking the police are going to service us, take him to the hospital. They took his life," said Cooksey, who was not present at the time of the shooting.

The release of the McDonald shooting video has led to protests, the forced resignation of former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and calls from residents for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down.

Cooksey said she wants a personal apology from Emanuel for what happened to her only child.

"Are we gonna get protected or is the police just gonna keep taking lives?" Cooksey said. "I mean, who's gonna answer these questions?"

Emanuel's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP.

Bettie Jones' brother, Melvin Jones, told the Tribune his sister celebrated "an excellent" Christmas at her apartment Friday with about 15 other relatives.

He said she lived there with her boyfriend and was the mother of four daughters and a son ranging in age from 19 to 38.

"There are so many questions and no answers," Melvin Jones said. "I'm numb right now. Right now there's a whole lot of anger, a whole lot of tears. ... I don't have time to feel. I have a funeral to prepare."

Comments
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: