CHICAGO (Reuters) - In a city troubled by allegations of police misuse of force, a Chicago officer early on Saturday shot and killed a male college student and a mother of five, both black, and the police department later said the woman’s death was both accidental and tragic.
Hours later police shot another person at a separate location.
“Officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon which fatally wounded two individuals,” the police department said in a statement.
A woman, 55, “was accidentally struck and tragically killed,” it said, adding “the department extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.”
It said the shootings were being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority.
The police department of the nation’s third-largest city is under a federal civil rights investigation for its use of deadly force and officer discipline.
A recently released video of the shooting death of a black teenager by a white officer in 2014 has sparked protests, with activists calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.
The fatal shootings happened in the West Garfield Park neighborhood on the city’s west side.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office identified the dead as Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier, 19.
Family members of Jones said that Legrier, a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, was home for Christmas and visiting his father, landlord of the two-story wooden frame building where the shooting occurred.
Family members said police were called after Legrier threatened his father with a metal baseball bat. Jones, who lived in the first-floor apartment, was shot through the door, according to her cousin, Evelyn Glover.
There was a single bullet hole in the wooden door. Blood stained the walls and carpet of the tidy apartment, which was decorated for Christmas. Relatives, including children of Bettie Jones, who was a grandmother of 10, were at the building crying and embracing each other.
“This is a wrongful death. How are you just going to fire through the door?” asked Glover, who added that Jones was recovering from ovarian cancer.
Janet Cooksey, Legrier’s mother, told local news channel CLTV her son had recently been suffering from mental illness.
“You call for help and you lose someone,” she said. “That has to stop.”
In a separate shooting, police responded to an assault in the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood, in the far south side, around 1:30 p.m. (1930 GMT).
The department provided scant information, saying only that no officers were injured and a weapon of some type was recovered. The Chicago Tribune reported that the person was taken to the hospital in serious to critical condition.
The Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews police conduct, is also investigating that shooting. Emanuel recently replaced the authority’s chief official in response to complaints about the agency’s effectiveness.
High-profile killings of black men by police officers since mid-2014 have triggered waves of angry protest across the country and fueled a renewed civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.
Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Justin Madden in Chicago; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Michaud, Ruth Pitchford and Bill Rigby