On Friday night, Bettie Jones was celebrating Christmas with her family in Chicago, playing the card game Spades, drinking, and enjoying her loved ones' company. Just hours later, early on Saturday morning, the 55-year-old grandmother came to her front door as Chicago police were responding to a domestic disturbance at Jones' upstairs neighbors' apartment.
She was accidentally shot dead by an officer.
Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old man, was also killed. His father had called police to report his son acting erratically and wielding a baseball bat around 4:30 a.m. local time. The Northern Illinois University student charged officers with a weapon, police said Saturday, causing them to open fire.
A medical examiner's report provided to BuzzFeed News on Sunday showed Jones died from a gunshot wound to the chest. LeGrier's autopsy stated that he died of "multiple gunshot wounds."
"My son was happy," LeGrier's mother Janet Cooksey told reporters Sunday. "He was not an angry child. He was not a violent child."
Cooksey said her son's father was against her speaking to the media and had gone to see a lawyer. She chose instead to go public with her anger at the Chicago police department (CPD).
"When is the mayor [Rahm Emanuel] going to step up?" she said. "We can't get no help with the police. CPD has failed us over and over."
Emanuel issued a statement Sunday night calling for "real changes" within the police department, including training for officers dealing with "mental health crises."
"There are serious questions about yesterday’s shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation," Emanuel said in a press release. "While their investigation is underway, we must also make real changes within our police department today and it is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental health crises."
The fatal shootings came after weeks of intense scrutiny of the city's police. In November, a white police officer was charged with first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. Chicago police are now being investigated by the Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations. Despite forcing out the police chief, Mayor Emanuel is facing calls from activists to resign.
On Sunday, police were criticized specifically for not using tasers to subdue LeGrier.
"Why you got to shoot first and ask questions later?" Bettie Jones' childhood friend Jacqueline Walker told reporters. "It's ridiculous!"
Community activist Ja'Mal Green said LeGrier would still be alive if more police were trained to use tasers.
"We should not be here today," he said. "But now that we are, we’re gong to use this story, this family, to put more pressure on the leaders to finally change the CPD culture in our neighborhoods, to finally change the way police act towards us."
He called on the officers to be prosecuted and had a simple message for Mayor Emanuel: "You failed us before, but now it’s your time to
step up or step down.
Holding back tears, LeGrier's mother clutched her phone and swiped through photos of her son before the cameras. Cooksey recalled him running a marathon last year for charity, but despaired that she couldn't get the day off work to cheer him on. "I won't get a chance to have any more memories like that," she said.
"I used to watch the news daily, and I would grieve for other mothers, other family members," Cooksey said. "And today I’m grieving myself."
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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