The morning after Christmas my wife’s aunt, Bettie Jones, was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. She was 55, a mother of five with many grandkids, and in good spirits. She was active in her community and in church every Sunday. The Chicago Police Department admitted she was shot on accident as she answered her door.
We’ve seen nationwide the same repeating story. A police officer uses excessive deadly force with ample video evidence. Prosecutors send the case to grand jury instead of charging the officer. This grand jury process is postponed months or years to quell public outrage. Ultimately, a grand jury does not indict any officer of wrongdoing.
A grand jury “meets in secret, behind closed doors. Its proceedings are usually one-sided, and are very different from a trial. Unlike a public trial, the accused person is not present (unless he or she is called as a witness), nor is his/her counsel present (even if he is called as a witness). Also, witnesses are not cross-examined.”
On December 28, a grand jury decided that the officers who killed Tamir Rice RIP, a 12 year old playing with a toy gun in a park and shot within “2 seconds” of officers arriving, would face no charges. A grand jury decided that 2 seconds is enough time to evaluate a situation and use deadly force against a child. This process continues to fail our society.
Police arrived after being called by Antonio LeGrier, who lived in the apartment above Bettie, when his son Quintonio LeGrier, “who was suffering mental problems” and, according to his parents, became aggressive against his father, threatening him with a baseball bat.” His father called the police expecting they would help him.
Bettie and Quintonio were both fatally shot by one police officer, who opened fire on Quintonio from a distance (shell casings were found 20 feet away). My aunt Bettie was struck in the chest by the officer’s multiple shots. That officer was called to diffuse the situation, not to shoot on sight, not to kill, but to protect human life.
This isn’t new for the Chicago Police Department. They are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice. But while that investigation takes place, I want to see uncompromising justice for my family and the LeGriers. That will not happen if this case is sent to a grand jury.
The grand jury process should not be used in the killings of Bettie Jones & Quintonio LeGrier and the process should be banned for police shootings, just as states like California have done.
Quintonio LeGrier was a very smart kid studying electrical engineering at NIU. He developed emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. Not a criminal, but a hardworking student and beloved son going through a hard time. My aunt was loved and did not deserve to be killed in her own home.
Please sign my petition calling on State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to not send this case to a grand jury and for the Illinois legislature to ban the grand jury process in Illinois police shootings.