Family of Chicago grandmother shot by police wants open investigation

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2016 1:37 PM

By Justin Madden

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The family of a 55-year-old black grandmother accidentally killed by a Chicago police officer called for an end to secrecy around police misconduct cases as her funeral was held on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral at a Chicago church for Bettie Jones, who was fatally shot in late December after police responded to a call about a neighbor's son threatening his father with a baseball bat. The officer also shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, 19, a black college student.

The shootings came after weeks of protests over the release of the video of a white police officer's fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014.

Protesters complained that it took more than a year for the nation's third-largest city to release the video of McDonald's shooting and the officer to face murder charges. They have called for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation.

Critics contend there is a code of silence among police officers regarding misconduct. The Jones' case is being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority, which has been criticized for finding almost all police shootings justified.

"They very much want this to be an open and transparent investigation," family attorney Larry Rogers Jr., speaking outside of the church, said of Jones' family. "Nothing hidden. No secrets. So that some good and some change can go about as a result of this tragedy."

The use of force by law enforcement against minorities has become the focus of national debate in the last 18 months due to high-profile killings of African Americans by mainly white officers.

At Wednesday's funeral, mourners filed past Jones' open red casket, surrounded by red and white roses and daisies, at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the city's West Side. Visitors included the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a civil rights activist.

Since the release of the McDonald video, Emanuel has ousted his police superintendent and called for changes in the way police are trained. The police department also has become the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.

Jones, a mother of five and grandmother of nine, was shot when she answered the door for police, said a lawsuit filed this week by Jones' family.

The Rev. Marshall Hatch told mourners that Jones' death offers a lesson in the power of innocent blood.

"She was there trying to help a neighbor and the police," said Hatch. "There is nothing that she did she should have done differently."

(Reporting by Justin Madden; Writing by Mary Wisniewski, Editing by Ben Klayman, Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)