ELGIN, Ill. (AP) — A compilation of police body-camera and dash cam footage released Thursday shows the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding woman by an Elgin officer along a Chicago-area interstate.
At one point, before Decynthia S. Clements steps out of her burning SUV, an officer can be heard saying, “she’s got the knife to her neck. She’s got the knife to her neck.”
The summary video of the March 12 confrontation with Clements, 34, on Interstate 90 was taken from more than 30 hours of footage from multiple cameras, Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said in the video.
The Elgin woman was shot following an hour-long standoff with police. Officers are heard prior to the shooting calling her “Cynthia” and telling her to get out of the vehicle. She responds, but officers appear to have difficulty hearing Clements because the SUV windows are up.
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As officers approach the vehicle, one is heard saying “get the Tasers set, get her out.” Seconds later, Clements opens the door as smoke pours from the SUV. Officers yell “let me see your hands” and “put the knife down” before she is shot.
“Seeing uncensored video of a life ending is something that should make all of us feel uncomfortable,” Swoboda said at the end of the summary video. “It’s cases like this, though, that also forces some tough conversations and I want the community to know that the Elgin Police Department is ready to have those tough conversations. Together, we will get through this.”
But lawyers representing Clements’ family said her death raises questions about tactics used by the police department.
“This situation did not have to escalate to such a degree that cost a young woman her life,” attorneys Antonio Romanucci and Andrew Stroth said in a statement made in response to the body-camera and dashcam video. “As we move forward with this lawsuit, those responsible for DeCynthia’s death must be held accountable.”
Officers need more training on how to de-escalate situations to avoid using deadly force, Stroth added.
Illinois State Police are investigating. Swoboda said in a statement that his department also will conduct a review to determine if officers on the scene followed policies and procedures.