by Frederick H. Lowe
A Chicago police officer involved in the shooting death of a mother of five and grandmother of six said to one of the women’s daughters, ‘Your mother is dead. Get over it,’ Larry R. Rogers, an attorney for the family of Bettie Jones, told a crowd of 100 people who gathered Sunday in front the two-story frame home where the deadly shooting occurred.
An irate Sam Adam Jr., another of Jones’ lawyers, said the police didn’t clean up her blood after killing her. Adam invited reporters inside the home to see the dried blood.
The comments shocked the already angry crowd who wore “Black Lives Matter” buttons, “[Chicago Mayor] Rahm [Emanuel]Has Failed Us” t-shirts and passed out fliers with the headline “Outrage” in bold black type that related the deadly shooting of Jones and Quintonio LeGrier, Jones’ upstairs neighbor. Some of the protesters carried a cloth poster with the names and faces of black men shot to death by police. Many said if they call the police for help, the police will kill them.
The entire event played out as neighbors stood on their porches with their arms folded, shaking their heads in disbelief. Police were nowhere to be seen in the neighborhood which is a mix of African American and Hispanic residents living in frame, brick and stone buildings.
The deadly shooting is even more shocking because the U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating the Chicago Police Department for deadly shootings but clearly the shootings have not stopped.
“The Department of Justice is in town, and we still have trigger- happy police,” said Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.
A call help and the police murder someone
An unnamed Chicago police officer shot to death Jones, 55, on Saturday as she waited at the front door to let them inside the home in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.
Police from the 15th police district were called to the home on by the landlord to resolve a domestic dispute involving his son, LeGrier, a 19 year-old undergraduate student studying engineering at Northern Illinois University.
No help for the mentally ill
Police shot to death young LeGrier, who was carrying a metal baseball bat, and was possibly experiencing a psychotic episode. Chicago police reportedly are trained by the National Alliance of Mental Illness Chicago to defuse situations with the mentally ill so incidents don’t escalate and become violent. A specially trained officer is supposed to be called to the scene to handle the situation, NAMI’s outgoing message tells callers who to ask for help.
On Sunday Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who closed six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, ordered changes in how police officers are trained to handle calls involving people with mental illness.
LeGrier, who lived on the second floor with his parents, was reportedly shot seven times, and Jones, a first floor tenant, was shot at least once that we know of. Police have not released the names or the race of the police officer or officers involved in the deadly shootings. They have been assigned 30 days of desk duty but much of what happened remains a mystery because the police aren’t talking.
“She (Jones) merely answered the doorbell and now she’s dead. She was shot for no reason,” said Rogers. He and Adam intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago police and the City of Chicago.
LeGrier’s family is represented by another group of lawyers who did not meet with the media, neighborhood residents, politicians or others gathered on Sunday.
Protesters know the answers
People who assembled in front of the house and sometimes inside as well wanted answers, but many believe they already have them because they are painfully familiar with the excessive violence the police have perpetrated on the black community for decades.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, visited the Jones’ family. “This is another example of excessive force by the police,” Jackson said. “Chicago police have shot and killed 75 people in the last several years and only one has been charged with murder.” Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
Jackson added that police officers who falsify reports so they can support cops involved in deadly shootings remain on the job.
Jones’s death called an execution
Although police issued a two-sentence statement, calling Bettie Jones’ deadly shooting an accident, others disagreed.
Arlene Jones, a columnist for the Austin Weekly, said the shooting was not an accident, but an execution.
Fred Hampton, Jr., whose father Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was murdered in an illegal police raid in 1969, called the deadly shootings of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier acts of police terrorism.
“The police are the worst gangsters in the city. They shoot and kill people and then they plant evidence,” Hampton said.
Police shot to death LeGrier, claiming he had become combative, but it’s not clear what they meant.
Dominick Foster, a neighbor, said the police could have negotiated with him in order to have deescalated the situation or used a taser to subdue him, not shoot to kill him.
Alderman Jason Ervin of the 28th Ward agreed. “A bullet is not the appropriate response for a person with a bat,” Ervin said.
It’s not clear why the police started shooting
Police fired at least eight shots, but it not known when they started shooting. Rogers and Adam placed green post-it notes at three locations where bullets were fired into the home. The bullet holes are on the building’s outer walls and the door. The bullets went through entire floor, through the living room and two bedrooms before lodging in a rear kitchen wall, said Rev. Hatch.
Adam said bullet casings were found on the sidewalk in front of the home. Rogers also searched for bullet casings between the buildings.
Cameras attached to building directly across the street from the home where Jones and LeGrier lived may have recorded the shooting. Adam asked the media’s help in learning more about the deadly shooting.
Jones suffered from ovarian cancer
The death of Bettie Jones is particularly sad, not that LeGrier’s isn’t.
Jones, whose brother shared she was suffering from ovarian cancer, worked at a local bakery. On Sunday, she was scheduled to join Mercy Seat Baptist Church, a block from her home, said Rev. Hatch.
Several of the protestors walked to the church and stayed there quietly for a few minutes before returning to Jones’ home.
Ovarian cancer is a deadly form of cancer, but a policeman’s bullet snuffed out her life before the cancer did.