'She wasn't left alone': Elgin residents gather to remember woman killed in police shooting

Elgin residents gather to remember woman killed in police shooting

  • Balloons with written messages are released during a vigil Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police March 12, 2018.

      Balloons with written messages are released during a vigil Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police March 12, 2018. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Charles Clements talks about his daughter during a vigil Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of her death. Decynthia Clements was fatally shot by Elgin police March 12, 2018.

      Charles Clements talks about his daughter during a vigil Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of her death. Decynthia Clements was fatally shot by Elgin police March 12, 2018. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin resident Decynthia Clements, who was killed by police in 2018, and her son Tyri Clements are pictured in this photo taken during Tyri's first prom in 2016.

    Elgin resident Decynthia Clements, who was killed by police in 2018, and her son Tyri Clements are pictured in this photo taken during Tyri's first prom in 2016. courtesy of tyri Clements

  • Tyri Clements shares memories of his mother during a vigil held Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police on March 12, 2018.

      Tyri Clements shares memories of his mother during a vigil held Tuesday in Elgin on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police on March 12, 2018. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin resident Stephanie Phillips, right, stands next to Vernon Joy of Hoffman Estates, who said a prayer during a vigil held Tuesday on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police on March 12, 2018.

      Elgin resident Stephanie Phillips, right, stands next to Vernon Joy of Hoffman Estates, who said a prayer during a vigil held Tuesday on the anniversary of the death of Decynthia Clements, who was fatally shot by Elgin police on March 12, 2018. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Corey Battles, middle, and Gena McNamara are among activists who called Tuesday for the firing of Elgin Police Lt. Chris Jensen, who killed Decynthia Clements on March 12, 2018.

      Corey Battles, middle, and Gena McNamara are among activists who called Tuesday for the firing of Elgin Police Lt. Chris Jensen, who killed Decynthia Clements on March 12, 2018. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

Tyri Clements watched intently as people bowed their heads in prayer, then released more than a dozen shiny balloons with messages remembering his mother, who was killed in a police shooting a year ago in Elgin.

Some of the balloons became entangled in tree branches, while others flew high into the twilight sky.

"I felt joy," the 20-year-old from Carpentersville said Wednesday, when about 40 people gathered in downtown Elgin to commemorate the anniversary of his mother's death. "I felt joy that all these people were here for her. It makes me feel like she could leave knowing she wasn't left alone."

Decynthia Clements was 34 when she was fatally shot March, 12, 2018, by Lt. Christian Jensen, who was cleared of wrongdoing last month by the Cook County state's attorney. The city hired a Chicago firm two weeks ago to conduct an internal investigation, and Jensen remains on paid leave.

Clements' family has a federal lawsuit pending against the city alleging her civil rights were violated.

"It's sad. It's just sad," said Decynthia's father, Charles Clements of Elgin. "I appreciate all the people coming out in support of us. We are getting a lot of support from the community."

People on Wednesday gathered in front of the police station to advocate for Jensen's firing, then walked about three blocks to the edge of the Kimball Street bridge, where the vigil was held.

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Jensen should never come back to work in Elgin, because that would be detrimental and divisive for the community, activist Corey Battles said. "We are here in memorial, letting people know we are still concerned and we are going to continue to fight until we get some type of justice for Decynthia and the family."

Residents Philip and Kayla Collins said this was their first time taking part in demonstrations about the police shooting.

"Racial injustice and police violence has been a huge issue lately, and for something like this to happen in our town ... it hits way too close to home," Philip Collins said.

Clements was shot after she had an hourlong standoff with police along Interstate 90. Officers attempted to coax her out for nearly an hour, and moved toward the vehicle after Clements started a fire inside, police body camera video shows. Clements came out holding a knife -- which officers asked her multiple times to drop -- and was shot three times by Jensen. Toxicology results determined Clements had cocaine in her bloodstream.

Jensen's supporters have called for due process and letting all investigations play out.

Mary Shesgreen, of the group Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice, said the police department has done a lot to try to reach out to low-income and minority communities. Still, Jensen should be fired, she said. "In this case, we have a police officer who, to my view, killed someone when there were several nonlethal means by which he could subdue her. And he chose to shoot her instead."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley said she plans to release the Illinois State Police report on the shooting as soon it's determined it will not impede the internal investigation, expected to last another six to eight weeks. The department plans to hold "listening sessions" with the community after the report is released, she said.

"I want to thank the community for their patience during this time as we make our way through the next process, and I remain open to any conversation and available to any conversation," she said.

Tyri Clements said he wants people to know that his mother, who worked as a nurse when he was younger, raised him to be a good person.

Decynthia Clements was "the most amazing person you'll ever meet," her son said. "She had a way of never saying no," he said. "She had a way of always putting others before herself. I think that's what I get most from her."

Vigil: Elgin police are conducting internal investigation

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