Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will curtail his family’s vacation in communist Cuba this week in response to the growing political fallout over yet another fatal shooting by Chicago police officers.
The shooting occurred in the wee hours of Dec. 26. Police killed two people: Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old college student home on break, and Bettie Jones, 55, a neighbor caught in a hail of police gunfire when she opened an exterior door at the request of LeGrier’s father.
Emanuel will return from his Cuba adventure on Tuesday, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The Second City mayor, who is worth an estimated $14 million, left with his family for the Caribbean communist haven on Dec. 18. He was not due back until Jan. 2.
The late-Christmas night incident unfolded after police responded to a 911 domestic disturbance call at a residence in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood. It was approximately 4:30 a.m. Quintonio LeGrier had allegedly been brandishing a metal baseball bat in the moments before his death. He had been threatening his father, according to reports.
Antonio LeGrier, Quintonio’s father, had asked Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five who lived below him, to wait in a vestibule for police.
As police rushed toward the building, Jones opened a door. At roughly the same time, police say, Quintonio LeGrier appeared. Jones was apparently behind LeGrier when the bullets began flying.
At least one cop opened fire, killing both LeGrier and Jones.
Police have characterized the shooting of Jones as an accident. She was “accidentally struck and tragically killed,” a police statement said.
A police report explained that officers on the scene were “confronted by a combative subject.”
The police report does not state give a reason for the police use of deadly force or say if a Taser was available.
Neither LeGrier nor Jones had guns in their possession at the time of their deaths.
Police reportedly shot LeGrier seven times.
Both Jones and LeGrier are black.
A police dispatcher told officers responding to domestic disturbance call that “the 19-year-old son is banging on his bedroom door with a baseball bat.”
LeGrier’s relatives say LeGrier, a freshman at Northern Illinois University majoring in electrical engineering, had been suffering from mental health problems in recent months.
“You call the police, you try to get help and you lose a loved one,” Cooksey lamented in a Tribune interview. “What are they trained for? Just to kill? I thought that we were supposed to get service and protection.”
“My son was going somewhere,” the grieving mother also said. “He wasn’t just a thug on the street.”
Latisha Jones, one of Bettie Jones’s four daughters, was sleeping in Jones’s apartment when the shooting occurred. She said she woke up to gunfire and found her mother, a cancer survivor, bleeding from the neck.
Mayor Emanuel has already contacted the Jones family — from Cuba — to offer his apologies.
“He was very respectful,” Latisha Jones told local radio giant WLS. “We said a prayer. I guess that warmed my heart, we prayed together over it. He said when he was back in town he’d make sure to come by.”
Cooksey, LeGrier’s mother, wants the same treatment. “Emanuel, I want a personal apology for my son’s life,” the bereaved mother told the Tribune.
Emanuel has not contacted any members of the LeGrier family.
Both the LeGrier and Jones families are filing civil lawsuits.
The LeGriers have already filed their suit in Cook County court. Quintonio LeGrier “never posed a danger of threat or harm” and the shooting was “excessive and unreasonable,” the suit charges, according to NBC News.
The Jones suit is on its way. Its allegations will be similar.
“In order to handle a domestic violence situation you need to understand what is happening in the processes,” Sam Adams Jr., an attorney for the Jones family, told WLS. “If this is a mentally ill person, how do you handle a mentally ill person versus a gangbanger versus somebody that’s simply walking down the street?”
The Christmas double-police shooting doesn’t bode well for Mayor Rahm, who is already battling increased public pressure to resign.
“He is cutting his family trip short so that he can continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department,” Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn explained in a statement obtained by the Tribune.
At a Sunday press conference, Cooksey and many others showed up in shirts announcing “Rahm Failed Us.”
On Monday, civil rights activist Al Sharpton criticized Emanuel’s failure to return immediately to Chicago after this most recent police shooting as “the height of arrogance” and “unbelievable.” (RELATED: Sharpton Criticizes Emanuel For Lack Of Intelligence)
Racially-tinged police shootings have been an emotional issue in Chicago this year — and a serious thorn in the side of Emanuel’s second-term administration.
In November, a judge ordered the city to release a police dash-cam video showing white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shoot black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death with 16 bullets in 2014.
Van Dyke has been indicted on a single charge of first-degree murder.
The dashcam video showing McDonald’s death is painful to watch. It shows McDonald, who had a knife, walking away from police officers. Van Dyke shot McDonald at a range of about 15 feet. He kept shooting — and shooting — after McDonald fell to the ground.
If convicted on the first-degree murder charge, Van Dyke will likely be sentenced to a prison term of 20 years to life.
The Chicago Police Department has already settled a civil suit with McDonald’s family for — reportedly — $5 million.
A few thousand protesters took to Chicago’s glitzy Magnificent Mile shopping district on Nov. 27 afternoon to protest McDonald’s death and the city’s slow response to the incident. (RELATED: Chicago Black Friday Protesters Briefly Shut Down Stores, Barricade And Shove Shoppers)
The U.S. Justice Department has initiated a civil rights investigation into McDonald’s death. It is focused on the “use of force, including racial, ethnic and other disparities in use of force” by Chicago cops.
This week, after the shooting deaths of LeGrier and Jones, the Chicago Police Department instituted a new policy that will require any officer who is involved in a shooting to spend 30 days on paperwork detail. A previous policy had required just three days of such desk duty.
In the wake of the release of the McDonald video and the multitude of protests that followed, Emanuel fired police chief Garry McCarthy.
Mayor Rahm’s unplanned flight from communist Cuba was likely somewhat hard to plan. President Barack Obama recently changed a 54-year-old policy to allow Americans to visit the collectivist island beset by extreme poverty. Regular commercial flights to the United States do not yet exist. There are only charter flights.
The Christmas season has not been kind to the Emanuel family lately. Last year, on Dec. 19, a pair of Chicago men mugged Emanuel’s teenage son, Zach, right across the street from the family home — and gave the high school senior a bloody lip and a chipped tooth to boot. The teen claimed he had stepped outside and across the street from the residence to make a mobile phone call. (RELATED: Christmas Chicago Style: Mayor Rahm’s Son Robbed Right In Front Of Family’s Home)