West Side leaders demand officer be fired for weekend shootings

(CHICAGO) West Side community leaders on Wednesday demanded an expedited investigation and firing of the Chicago Police officer who shot and killed 55-year-old Bettie Jones and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“Why did police shoot, knowing someone unrelated to the incident was in close proximity of LeGrier? And why did they shoot at all? Are there not other ways to disarm someone with a bat?” asked Pierre Keys of We Charge Genocide at a news conference outside 11th Police District headquarters, 3151 W. Harrison.

“Why is only 16 percent of Chicago’s police department trained on how to deal with people mentally challenged,” he asked. “We’re also calling for the resignation of Rahm Emanuel. He only responds to our plight and our struggles when it’s politically expedient.”

The group included elected officials such as state Rep. La Shawn Ford, who recently introduced a bill that would allow Chicagoans to recall/fire their mayor, and prominent ministers such as Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church and chair of the West Side Leader’s Network of churches.

The group demanded that the department publicly identify the officer who shot Jones and LeGrier early Saturday. The officer is assigned to administrative duties for 30 days under new Chicago Police Department protocols.

“We are concerned citizens of the West Side, where this heinous act on Dec. 26th happened. We are businessmen. We are tax-paying citizens who are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Marseil Jackson, director of the youth division of the Leaders Network and founder of the Jackson Action Coalition.

“It’s a sad day in America when I cannot call 911 to help me because I might get hurt. We want to know who they are protecting and serving,” Jackson said.

In the West Garfield Park incident, LeGrier, an emotionally troubled yet academically gifted Northern Illinois University student reportedly became so agitated that his father called police. Arriving officers “were confronted by a combative subject” and the teen was shot and killed, according to Chicago police.

Jones, a mother of five, was an innocent neighbor in the two-flat building who simply opened the door. Saying she “was accidentally struck and tragically killed,” the police department has apologized.

“I understand the officer said he apologizes, but how can you make a mistake like that? Laquan McDonald did not get a chance to apologize. Bettie Jones, Quintonio LeGrier, did not get a chance to apologize,” said Tio Hardiman of Violence Interrupters Inc.

“I just left Bettie Jones’ home. Her four daughters need a new home. They lost their mother. They lost everything,” he said. “There’s no evidence in the universe that all African-American youth are a threat to the police department. So why are police so trigger-happy to kill them? Why are the shootings that occur in the community a white officer killing an African-American youth?”

Coming a month after the city’s release of the police dashcam video showing the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald — shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014 — the recent incident added fuel to already incendiary police-community relations.

The group of about 20 entered the Harrison District office seeking a meeting with Deputy Chief James Jones. They were asked to wait outside. The group eventually was told to leave a contact and Jones would follow up. The leaders called the treatment “disrespectful” and “representative” of Chicago Police culture. The department did not respond to a request for comment.

“We don’t wish to denigrate or downplay the important role of the police. What we are here to say is unlawful behavior will not be tolerated,” said Gerald Frazier of Dreamz and Visionz. “The mayor in his re-election campaign stood in front of cameras and said he’d listen. Yes, Mr. Emanuel, we did vote for you, 57 percent of African-Americans. Where are you? We’re ready to talk.”

— Chicago Sun-Times