Prosecutor clears Peoria officers in shooting death case

Updated 1/30/2018 2:30 PM

PEORIA, Ill. -- A prosecutor in central Illinois has determined that six police officers acted in self-defense when they fatally shot a suspected bank robber last fall.

Eddie Russell Jr., 25, was suspected of robbing a Peoria bank with a handgun in September.

Russell Jr. was later shot as many as 18 times as part of a two-hour standoff at his mother's home as he approached officers with a weapon, the (Peoria) Journal Star reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

State's Attorney Jerry Brady on Monday said the officers acted properly and didn't use excessive force. Sgt. Matthew Lane and Officers Sean Johnston, Christopher Heaton, Tyler Hodges, Jason Leigh and Ian McDowell have been on paid leave since the shooting. They're likely cleared to return to work.

Brady also found that Russell's mental health could've played a factor standoff. He said police and others need to do more to ensure such a shooting doesn't happen again.

"The mental health system is crossing paths with the criminal justice system and it is not adequately prepared to address all issues," Brady said. "This could develop again, and if there are any processes that could be used by SRT, then those angles should be explored."

Russell's family has disputed the police account and called for further investigation into his death.

The victim's father, Eddie Russell Sr., had alleged that police grabbed his son out of the house. However, Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell disputed that statement.

Illinois State Police have conducted the post-shooting investigation as required by state law.


Information from: Journal Star,

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