Chicago cops admit mistake in shooting death of woman

Last Updated Dec 27, 2015 6:42 PM EST

CHICAGO - Grieving relatives and friends of two people shot and killed by Chicago police said Sunday that the city's law enforcement officers had failed its residents.

Quintonio LeGrier, 19, was killed early Saturday by police responding to a domestic disturbance, along with downstairs neighbor Bettie Jones, 55, police said.

CBS Chicago reports Jones' family said she died opening a door for police to come in. Chicago Police acknowledged that was an accidental shooting.

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Bettie Jones, 55, left, and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, right, were killed by a Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call, Dec. 26, 2015.

CBS Chicago

Both victims were black.

The shootings come amid ongoing scrutiny of police across the country after a series of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of officers gave rise to the Black Lives Matter protest movement. The Chicago Police Department also is under a federal civil rights investigation that will look into patterns of racial disparity in the use of force, how the department disciplines officers and handles misconduct accusations.

That investigation was launched after last month's release of police dashboard camera video showing white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The video's release has led to protests, the forced resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and calls from residents for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down. It is not clear whether there are any video recordings of Saturday's shootings.

Jacqueline Walker, a friend of Jones, asked why police "shoot first and ask questions later." Police should use stun guns or other nonlethal methods instead," Walker said at a news conference outside the West Side residence where the victims lived.

A spokesman for Mayor Emanuel said the mayor spoke with the family of Bettie Jones on Sunday and offered his condolences.

Officers who responded to an emergency call "were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon," the Chicago Police Department said in a statement Saturday.

"The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed," according to the statement, which extended "deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends."

Jones, a mother of five who had hosted family for Christmas, and LeGrier, a college student home for the holiday break, were pronounced dead at hospitals, according to relatives and the Cook County medical examiner's office.

LeGrier's mother, Janet Cooksey, told reporters that the Chicago Police Department has failed her and so many others. She said she has seen other families who lost their loved ones to police shootings, and now it has happened to her.

CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports, wearing a sweatshirt critical of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cooksey said her son was a honors student in college, but was mentally ill.

"Something just needs to be done. I used to watch the news daily and I would grieve for other mothers," she said. "Today I'm grieving myself."

Speakers at the news conference said Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs to improve the situation with police, but others who spoke called for him to resign.

Police did not immediately disclose the race of the officer, saying only that the officers involved will be placed on administrative duties for 30 days while "training and fitness for duty requirements can be conducted." It isn't clear how many officers responded, how many used their firearms and how many times both LeGrier and Jones were struck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officers' role in the shooting is being investigated by the city's Independent Police Review Authority, the city's main police oversight agency. He also said police can't comment. IPRA spokesman Larry Merritt also declined comment.

A prayer vigil for Jones was scheduled for later Sunday.

"This family is absolutely devastated," the Rev. Marshall E. Hatch of a neighborhood church said, adding that the shooting showed how "deeply dysfunctional the relationship is between this department and its citizens."

"We need relief in Chicago," Hatch said.

LeGrier's father told the Chicago Sun-Times he had invited his son to a family holiday gathering before the shooting but the younger man chose not to go. Antonio LeGrier said when he returned to his second-floor apartment early Saturday, his son appeared to be a "little agitated."

The elder LeGrier said he heard loud banging on his locked bedroom door around 4:15 a.m. and that his son said, "You're not going to scare me." He said his son tried to bust the door open, but he kept him from doing so and called police. The father told the newspaper that he called Jones, who lived a floor below, and warned her that his son was a "little irate" and not to open the door unless police arrived. He said Jones told him she saw his son outside with a baseball bat.

When police arrived, Antonio LeGrier said he heard Jones yell, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" He said he heard gunshots as he made his way down from the second floor and saw his son and Jones lying in the foyer.

Antonio LeGrier told the Sun-Times that his son had emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. LeGrier said he was home on break from Northern Illinois University, where he majored in electrical engineering technology.

Emanuel's office issued a statement late Saturday that said the IPRA would share its evidence with the county prosecutor's office.

"Anytime an officer uses force the public deserves answers, and regardless of the circumstances, we all grieve anytime there is a loss of life in our city," Emanuel said in the statement.