By Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root
When police arrived in the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago early Saturday morning, they encountered Quintonio LeGrier, 19, reportedly wielding an aluminum bat, and Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five. Within minutes, LeGrier and Jones had been fatally shot, and now their family and friends want answers.
Bettie Jones received a call early Saturday morning asking if she could help police gain access to her building. According to ABC 7 Chicago, Jones’ neighbor, Quintonio LeGrier, was wielding a bat and acting erratically, so his father called police and then called downstairs to ask if Jones could open the front door to let in the cops.
Shortly after police arrived, both LeGrier and Jones were fatally shot.
Police say Jones was shot accidentally, but family and friends of both Jones and LeGrier are struggling to understand why deadly force was necessary in the first place; an incident that leaves many wondering if this most recent shooting is part of a culture of aggressive and deadly policing when it comes to black communities.
“What about the Tasers?” Jacqueline Walker, a friend of Jones said of LeGrier on CNN. “Taser him down, don’t start shooting people, innocent people.”
Police say they received a call early Saturday about a domestic dispute and that when they arrived, LeGrier began charging toward them holding an aluminum bat. Police opened fire, hitting both LeGrier and Jones.
The Cook County Medical Examiner told CNN Sunday that Jones died of a gunshot wound to the chest and LeGrier died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The medical examiner ruled both deaths homicides, CNN reports. Authorities have not released many details in the shooting, and it was unknown whether video of the incident exists.
According to ABC, LeGrier was a Northern Illinois University student who, according to his mother, struggled with mental illness, but was not violent. LeGrier was an honor student who sent his mom inspirational quotes each day, ABC reports.
“I used to watch the news daily and grieve for other mothers and family members,” LeGrier’s mother told ABC. “Today, I am grieving myself. When does it end? … No mother should have to bury her child, especially under these circumstances.”
Jahmal Cole, who identified himself as Jones’ nephew, told CNN that his aunt, a mother of five and grandmother who worked as a baker, had a right to open her door without fear of being shot.
“She should not have had to open her door and be shot down by a Chicago police officer,” Cole said during a Sunday press conference, ABC reports.
“What happened should matter to everyone,” Cole declared. “Everyone was celebrating Christmas like any other family. She should not have to be shot down just coming to the door. Your family does not want to wake up to news like this.”
The shooting comes only weeks after protests that demanded Chicago police release video footage showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Van Dyke has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial.
On Sunday, Jones’ and LeGrier’s family members demanded accountability from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department.
Emanuel, who is on vacation in Cuba, issued a statement a day after the shooting, noting that changes must be made in how police respond to mental-health situations.
“There are serious questions about yesterday’s shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation,” Emanuel said, CNN reports.
“While their investigation is underway, we must also make real changes within our police department today, and it is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental-health crises.”