T-shirts show divided sentiments about Elgin police shooting
It's been nearly a year since a fatal police shooting in Elgin, and divided sentiments within the community are manifesting as opposing messages on T-shirts that residents plan to wear at a city council meeting next week.
The T-shirts signal either support for Lt. Christian Jensen, who fatally shot Decynthia Clements of Elgin on March 12, 2018, or the belief that the 19-year police veteran, who's been on paid leave since the March 12, 2018 shooting, should not come back to work.
Resident Bill O'Neill said he and his friend Jason Lentz, a police officer in Elgin, nearly sold out 200 "support Jensen" T-shirts. All proceeds will go to Jensen's legal expenses, if needed, or to an organization that supports police, O'Neill said.
Resident Marcus Banner said he made about 75 T-shirts with a "no" symbol over Jensen's name. Banner said he has given away most of the T-shirts and any money he receives goes to recoup his costs.
Clements, 34, was killed after she led police on a chase and had an hourlong standoff with them along the Jane Addams Tollway. Police body camera video shows she started a fire inside her car; as police officers moved closer, exhorting her to get out, she exited holding a knife and was shot by a gun and a Taser. Police said Clements was holding two knives, one in each hand, but only one is visible in the video released.
State police conducted a preliminary investigation, whose results have not been made public, and the Cook County state's attorney has yet to issue a decision on whether the shooting was justified. Clements' family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city.
O'Neill said the "support Jensen" T-shirts are about asking for due process for the officer and not casting judgment before the investigation is complete. In his opinion, O'Neill said, Jensen should come back to work, because "you can't damn somebody for something when he did everything by the book."
Lentz didn't return a request for comment. On his Facebook page, Lentz wrote the T-shirts were so Jensen "knows that's he's not fighting this alone."
Banner said the "no Jensen" T-shirts signify that even if Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx finds the shooting justified, the officer should be fired by the city. It would be detrimental to the community, particularly low-income minorities, to allow him to come back, Banner said.
"The video doesn't lie," Banner said. "We all witnessed the unnecessary death of Decynthia. Period."
The Cook County medical examiner's report states Clements had two gunshot wounds to the head and one to the chest, a nonfatal amount of carbon monoxide in her lungs, Taser residue in her hair, burns to her calves, and combustion-related darkening on the back of her hands.
A previously unreported detail is that Clements had multiple abrasions and "incised wounds" measuring a half inch to four inches on her neck, according to the report. In the body camera video, officers say, "She's got the knife to her neck," and, "She's stabbing herself," before they move toward the car.
Toxicology results determined Clements, who was 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed 103 pounds, had levels of cocaine in her blood of 770 nanograms per milliliter, and benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, at 3600 ng/mL. By comparison, patients admitted to the ER for cocaine-related complaints had an average 260 ng/mL of cocaine and 1280 ng/mL of benzoylecgonine, the report states.
The toxicology lab NMS Labs, in Pennsylvania, and the Cook County state's attorney's office did not respond to requests for comment.
If Jensen is cleared of wrongdoing, the city would conduct an internal investigation -- which some council members say should be done by an outside investigator -- to determine whether Jensen violated police department policy or procedure.
A group of Elgin clergy and one council member, Corey Dixon, have publicly stated Jensen should not come back to work in Elgin.