CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police fatally shot a 19-year-old man and 55-year-old woman over the weekend, again putting a spotlight on one of the nation’s largest police departments and raising questions about whether its officers are too quick to use deadly force.
The double shooting, which already has led to a civil lawsuit filed Monday, follows the Nov. 24 release of video showing white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The release of the video sparked persistent protests, forced the resignation of the city’s police chief and led to a wide-ranging civil rights investigation of the entire Chicago Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The following is a look at the latest shooting, what questions remain unanswered and what’s likely to happen next:
FACTS NOT IN DISPUTE
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It’s clear that at least one police officer opened fire early Saturday at a two-story home on Chicago’s West Side. Mortally wounded by the gunfire was 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who was home from college for the holidays and staying with his father in an upstairs apartment. Also killed was 55-year-old Bettie Jones, who lived in the ground-floor apartment. Both were black. Police were responding to at least one 911 call about a domestic disturbance involving LeGrier and his father. A police statement said officers “were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon.” It added the “female victim was accidentally struck.”
WHAT’S NOT KNOWN
Among the many unanswered questions: How many 911 calls were made? Was one made by Quintonio LeGrier himself? How many officers responded? What was the race of responding officers? How far away were LeGrier and Jones when police started firing? And perhaps most critically: Why did police decide to start shooting?
A police spokesman has declined to comment on the circumstances of the shooting beyond the brief original statement.
LeGrier’s father, Antonio LeGrier, called police, but officers told him later that his son also had called 911 earlier, the elder LeGrier’s lawyer, Basileios Foutris, said Monday.
A cousin of LeGrier’s, Albert Person, says police indicated to LeGrier’s father afterward that the teenager opened the door holding a bat as officers arrived. Person, who spoke to LeGrier’s father at length about the incident, said it appeared shots were first fired at the teenager and Jones was shot as she tried to intervene. But lawyers for the Jones family say that it may have been Jones who opened the door for police and that police opened fire soon after.
Sam Adam Jr., a Jones family lawyer, says Jones and LeGrier were apparently shot near the doorway, but that shell casings were found some 20 feet away. He said that raised questions about whether police could have perceived LeGrier as a threat at such a distance. It couldn’t be independently verified that the casings had any link to Saturday’s shooting.
IS THERE VIDEO?
Video has been central to controversies surrounding other police shootings nationwide, including the shooting of McDonald. Chicago authorities have not said if there is video from the dashcams of any squad cars that responded to the 911 call. Adam says police appear to have checked a security video on a house across the street from where Saturday’s shooting occurred. But it wasn’t known if that camera or other security cameras in the area captured the incident.
WHAT’S KNOWN ABOUT THE VICTIMS
Bettie Jones was a mother of five who, a family spokesman said, also had many grandchildren. She had hosted family on Christmas Day, just hours before she was shot. She was known for working with community groups committed to reducing violence, said Person, who said he was also a friend of hers. Person said it would have been in Jones’ character to get up when she heard commotion outside and to attempt to help Quintonio LeGrier.
The 19-year-old was an engineering student at Northern Illinois University, according to relatives. “My son was going somewhere. … He wasn’t just a thug on the street,” his mother said Sunday. She challenged reports that her son might have had emotional or mental illness issues, saying that wasn’t the case.
Foutris filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Quintonio LeGrier’s father Monday, and attorneys for the Jones family say they expect to file a suit of their own soon. The LeGrier suit in Cook County Circuit Court contends Quintonio LeGrier never had a weapon and never threatened anyone before police fired. The suit, which doesn’t specify an amount in potential damages, also alleges police forced the father to go immediately to a police station to answer questions, separating him from his son as he was dying. The city’s law department declined comment.
The city’s Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the double police shooting, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office has said IPRA would share its evidence with the county prosecutor’s office.
On Sunday, Emanuel called on police and IPRA to review crisis-intervention training.
The mayor said in a statement that he directed the new acting chief administrator of IPRA and the interim police superintendent to meet as soon as possible. He said he wants them to review the training around how officers respond to mental health crisis calls, and determine deficiencies and how to immediately address them.