About 100 Elgin community members gather to protest fatal police shooting
About 100 activists and community members gathered Sunday outside the Elgin police station to protest the fatal officer-involved shooting of Decynthia Clements last week.
Participants marched, chanted and held signs protesting police brutality and demanding justice for Clements. Police officers and elected officials joined the group in prayer at the start of the demonstration, which remained mostly peaceful and occasionally grew heated.
Demitrius Smith, Clements' cousin, said he and other relatives have been among the crowds gathering in front of the police station every day since Tuesday. But it's not out of anger, he said. They just want answers.
"The intention for today was for everyone to get to know each other," Smith said. "We're hoping to ... finally clarify what happened that night. That's what my whole entire family wants."
Police said Clements, 34, had a knife when she was shot early Monday by Lt. Christian Jensen after a police chase resulted in an hourlong standoff. Officers tried negotiating with her, then moved toward the vehicle to pull her out after a fire was lit inside, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said. She was shot when she exited the car, he said.
Clements died of multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said. Jensen, a 19-year veteran of the department, is on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is being conducted by Illinois State Police.
Several activists said Sunday the public has a right to see the body camera and squad car video of the shooting. That footage is expected to be released this week, once investigators are finished interviewing officers, Swoboda said.
"We understand the community has questions, and so do we, quite honestly," he said. "We'll get through this as a community, and we'll get the answers that everyone's looking for."
Some protesters said they believe race played a role in the shooting, as Clements was black and Jensen is white. Activist Leonard Williams Sr. said he hopes the video footage will help determine whether different action could have been taken to avoid a fatality.
"Everybody's lives matter," he said. "If we don't say anything now, this would keep going on. We want to do a peaceful demonstration to make everybody aware that we're tired of this."
Angela Torres of Elgin, whose daughter is friends with Clements' son, said Sunday's protest offered an opportunity for residents to show their support for the community.
"It's a very close-knit town," she said, "so when something happens like this, everybody comes together."