*Two new shooting deaths by Chicago police are prompting more calls for the city’s mayor to step down, and have increased tensions against a force already under fire over its practices.
Chicago police fatally shot Bettie Jones, 55, and Quintonio LeGrier, 19, while answering a call about a domestic disturbance early Saturday.
LeGrier’s mother Janet Cooksey says her son was a college honors student studying engineering who recently had been dealing with some mental health issues, reports CBS News.
LeGrier’s father reportedly called police to their home early Saturday because the teen was threatening him with an aluminum baseball bat. The father then called his downstairs neighbor – 55-year-old mother of five, Bettie Jones – to open the door when officers arrived.
Jones was waiting by the door as LeGrier charged down the stairs, still carrying the bat. Police say they opened fire because LeGrier was acting in a “combative” manner, and that Jones was “accidentally struck and tragically killed” along with him.
The Cook County medical examiner told CNN that Jones died of a gunshot wound to the chest and LeGrier died of multiple gunshot wounds. Both deaths were ruled homicides, the medical examiner said.
LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, said Sunday that police shot her son seven times, once in the buttocks. That meant he was turning away, she said.
“This needs to stop,” Cooksey said, tears streaming down her face as she addressed reporters. “No mother should have to bury her child, especially under these circumstances. The police are supposed to serve and protect us.”
The fatalities come amid protests in Chicago over a string of deadly police shootings.
Video released recently showed the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, shot by officer Jason Van Dyke 16 times in October of 2014. The officer faces criminal charges.
Family members and supporters of LeGrier and Jones are blaming bad leadership and a police culture of “shoot first and ask questions later” for the deaths. Specifically, they asked why police didn’t use nonlethal force, such as stun guns.
The officer will be on administrative duty for 30 days while the Independent Police Review Authority investigates, Chicago police said. He has not been identified.
“The department extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends,” the Police Department said in a statement.
On Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for a review of how police are trained to respond to mental health issues in a crisis.
But family, friends and local religious leaders holding a vigil for LeGrier and Jones were critical of Emanuel’s efforts – some now even asking for intervention from the White House.
“We hope to hear from the president, President Obama — we are under siege,” said Pastor Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church.