Chicago police fatally shot a 19-year-old male student and a 55-year-old mother of five Saturday. Both victims were African American.
The shootings are the latest in a city that is already under a U.S. Justice Department investigation for the brutal shooting of a 17-year-old African American male last year by a white police officer.
The race of the police officers involved in Saturday’s response to a domestic disturbance has not been revealed.
The police department said when its officers arrived on the scene they were “confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon, fatally wounding two individuals.”
A police statement said the woman, Bettie Jones, “was accidentally struck and tragically killed.”
While the police offered little information about the shooting, a report in The Chicago Tribune newspaper said Quintonio LeGrier, the student, was threatening his father with a metal baseball bat when the police were called.
The newspaper said it appeared LeGrier and Jones, who was LeGrier’s downstairs neighbor, both arrived at their shared front door at about the same time the police arrived.
The Tribune account reports LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, said the family was told her son was shot seven times.
Cooksey told the newspaper her son “didn’t have a gun. He had a bat.” She said “one or two” shots would have brought him down.
She said “You call the police, you try to get help and, you lose a loved one. What are they trained for? Just to kill? . . . My son was an honor student. He’s here for Christmas break and now I’ve lost him.”
One of Jones’ family members said Jones had just celebrated Christmas Friday “with food and card games” with about 15 relatives at her apartment.” She had an excellent Christmas,” Melvin Jones said.” And then to wake up to this.”
The Justice Department is taking a look at the behaviors of Chicago police following the shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald by white police officer Jason Van Dyke. McDonald was shot in 2014, but footage of his shooting was only recently released.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has apologized for the teen’s shooting, but protesters continue to call for the mayor’s resignation.
Emanuel said it was not acceptable that some Chicago police officers treat African Americans, particularly young men, differently than whites and he regretted that African American parents told their children to be wary of police.
Better training of officers is among the police department reforms Emanuel has promised. Other steps include a special panel to investigate internal police practices and reopening closed cases of police shootings found to be justified.
Some said the police department intentionally withheld facts in the McDonald shooting.
Police car video of the incident shows Van Dyke firing at McDonald when the teen appeared to be walking away from police. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, with some of the bullets fired even while the teen was writhing on the ground.
Van Dyke has been fired and charged with first-degree murder. Police Chief Garry McCarthy resigned.