Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will cut short a family vacation to Cuba after police in the city fatally shot a 19-year-old male student and a 55-year-old mother of five Saturday. Both victims were African American.
The shootings have increased tensions in the city after the mayor was forced to release a police dashboard camera video that showed 17 year old Laquan McDonald shot 16 times by a police officer in 2014.
Emanuel has seen his approval ratings drop to 18 percent and continued demonstrations demanding his resignation.
The race of the police officers involved in Saturday's response to what police called “a domestic disturbance” has not been revealed.
The Chicago police department said when its officers arrived on the scene Saturday they were "confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon, fatally wounding two individuals."
A police statement said the woman, Bettie Jones, "was accidentally struck and tragically killed."
While the police offered little information about the shooting, a report in The Chicago Tribune newspaper said Quintonio LeGrier, the student, was threatening his father with a metal baseball bat when the police were called.
The newspaper said it appeared LeGrier and Jones, who was LeGrier's downstairs neighbor, both arrived at their shared front door at about the same time the police arrived.
The Tribune account reports LeGrier's mother, Janet Cooksey, said the family was told her son was shot seven times.
Cooksey told the newspaper her son "didn't have a gun. He had a bat." She said "one or two" shots would have brought him down.
"You call the police, you try to get help and, you lose a loved one. What are they trained for? Just to kill? . . . My son was an honor student. He's here for Christmas break and now I've lost him," she said.
The Chicago Sun–Times reported that LeGrier’s father, Antonio, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Chicago on Monday.
Mayor Emanuel’s spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement Monday that the mayor would cut short a family vacation with his wife and three children in Cuba in order to, “continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department.” She said the mayor had been in constant contact with acting police superintendent John Escalante.
The Justice Department is taking a look at the behavior of Chicago police following the McDonald shooting in 2014 by white police officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke has been fired and charged with first degree murder in the shooting. The former police chief of Chicago, Garry McCarthy, resigned after the shooting video was made public.
Emanuel said it was not acceptable that some Chicago police officers treat African Americans, particularly young men, differently than whites and he regretted that African American parents told their children to be wary of police.
Better training of officers is among the police department reforms Emanuel has promised. Other steps include a special panel to investigate internal police practices and reopening closed cases of police shootings found to be justified.