Elgin victim's family to see shooting video today
Elgin police announced Wednesday that video from the fatal police shooting of Decynthia Clements will be released today, and a city councilwoman called for an independent investigation into the matter.
Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said March 12 video taken from a squad car and an officer's body camera will be shown to Clements' family this morning and then to community leaders, including members of the city council and local pastors. It will be released to the media sometime Thursday afternoon, he said.
Several residents spoke at the council meeting Wednesday, the first since Clements was fatally shot by Lt. Christian Jensen.
The Rev. Leonard Williams said the community is hurting. "We feel Cynthia should be living right now," he said.
Williams praised the police department as being "outstanding," but resident Marcus Banner charged that some officers have exhibited "hostile and disrespectful behavior" toward low-income, minority residents.
Resident Tyrell Ivy praised police for deciding to release the video. As for the shooting, "it may be legally justified, but it's hard for us to see at this point how it's morally justifiable."
Police said Clements, 34, had a knife and started a fire in her car after an hourlong standoff that came after she fled from a traffic stop. Swoboda said officers moved toward her sport utility vehicle after they saw the fire.
Activists have protested daily in front of the police department demanding release of the video and questioning why Clements was shot. Councilwoman Tish Powell said she understands people's anger and emotion.
"I get it. I feel it," she said. "And I see myself in Decynthia Clements. She looked like me. She was a mother just like me. But most importantly, she was a human like all of us."
Illinois State Police is conducting an investigation expected to last months, followed by an internal review by Elgin police. Powell said the city should hire an outside investigator to do an internal investigation of the shooting. The city also should create a board of residents that would help review allegations of police misconduct, she said.
Councilman Corey Dixon said he supports the peaceful demonstrations. "Change happens because we as a society, and as a community, will it," he said.
A "courageous community conversation" on the shooting will take place in early April, Mayor David Kaptain said. The event will be hosted by the city's human relations commission, which has hosted a few such events on topics such like Black Lives Matter.
But the fact that Elgin police have a strong focus on community policing and the city has been proactive with community conversations have lulled the city into a false sense of security, Powell said.
"Our challenges are no different than they are anywhere in the country. However, what does makes us different is how we confront them."