Elgin police chief: Video in fatal shooting to come next week
Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda announced Friday he plans to release police body camera and squad car video in the fatal shooting of Decynthia Clements at the end of next week, when Illinois State Police investigators are expected to be done interviewing officers.
"Although the investigation is expected to last several months, we recognize that the public has a right to know what happened. It is against the preference of the Illinois State Police to release the video," he said on Facebook, "but our community needs answers."
Elgin activists have been protesting every afternoon since Tuesday in front of the police department demanding the release of police video. They said they plan to continue the daily protests until that happens and are planning a large protest Sunday.
Police said Clements, 34, had a knife and was shot early Monday by Lt. Christian Jensen after an hourlong standoff that came after she fled from a traffic stop. Swoboda said officers attempted to negotiate with her, then moved toward the vehicle to pull her out after she lit a fire inside. She was shot after she exited the car, he said.
Authorities said she died of multiple gunshot wounds. Jensen, a 19-year-veteran of the department, is on administrative leave. He was the ranking supervisor on duty when the shooting happened, city records show.
Clements was one of eight siblings and had a 19-year-old son. The family is being represented by the law firm Romanucci & Blandin of Chicago.
"The public has a right to know what happened in this incident and why it escalated to such a degree that it resulted in a young woman's death," attorney Antonio M. Romanucci said in a statement this week. "Whatever happened on that interstate, it didn't have to come to this. This tragedy presents a prime case to push for more intensive training for officers to recognize situations that call for appropriate de-escalation techniques where a citizen poses no threat of bodily harm to a police officer or others."
Elgin police spokeswoman Kristie Hilton declined to comment on his statement.
Some protesters have said they believe race played a factor in the shooting. Clements is black and Jensen is white.
Elgin has done its best to prepare for a situation like this, said the Rev. Bob Whitt, who works as community liaison for the police department. Whitt, who is black, was hired by Swoboda two years ago for the newly created position.
Whitt and Swoboda meet quarterly with local pastors, discussing topics such as an emergency phone tree to be activated in case of unrest. Clergy members have hosted several "community conversations" regarding the relationship between police and the community, and the city's human relations commission has hosted conversations on topics like the Black Lives Matter movement. The commission is planning a conversation centered on the shooting at a date to be announced.
"What I do hope is that because we have had examples of situations such as Ferguson, such as Charlotte," Whitt said, " ... that I would hope we have great people in Elgin that would say, 'Let's show the nation how we appropriately handle this,'" he said.
"That doesn't mean we can't protest. That doesn't mean we can't have concerns."