Petition asks Elgin to fire officer who fatally shot woman on I-90
A petition with more than 1,600 signatures asking for the firing of a police officer who fatally shot a woman last year was submitted to the Elgin City Council on Wednesday, two days after the release of a consultant's report that concluded the officer complied with the department's policy on deadly force.
The petition objects to Lt. Christian Jensen's killing of resident Decynthia Clements "on moral grounds." "Lt. Jensen is now a polarizing figure in our community. To keep him on the police force damages the reputation and integrity of the city of Elgin and its police department," the petition states.
The vast majority of signatures are from Elgin, according to those who circulated the petition.
"This has driven a wedge in the community, and Jensen must go," resident Tim Solarz said.
Jensen shot Clements on March 12, 2018, after an hourlong standoff during which she set her vehicle on fire. Officers moved in to rescue her, then Clements exited her vehicle armed with two knives.
Jensen fired three shots while another officer simultaneously fired a Taser, and both uses of force were in compliance with department policy, according to an independent professional standards investigation completed by Hillard Heintze LLC of Chicago.
The report, however, determined Jensen should have called an ambulance as soon as he realized Clements was suffering a "serious mental episode." Jensen also failed to follow protocol when no medical assistance was given to Clements immediately after she was shot.
Jensen told consultants that Clements was not breathing and he believed she was dead. Officers also had to drag her body away from the burning vehicle, body camera video shows.
Jensen turned off his body camera twice at the scene -- first for one minute, then for 31 minutes -- but a department policy requiring officers to activate such equipment had not yet taken effect. His body camera was turned on when he moved toward the vehicle and shot Clements.
Resident Jose Bosque said he believes Jensen's actions run contrary to the state's body camera law from 2015. Law enforcement agencies are not required to use body cameras.
If they do, the law states they should follow requirements including that cameras be turned on at all times when officers are in uniform and responding to calls for service, or engaged in any law enforcement-related encounter or activity.
They need not be turned on when officers are completing paperwork alone or "only in the presence of another law enforcement officer," the law says.
Cameras may be turned off when officers are inside patrol cars with in-car cameras and must be turned off at the request of a victim or witness of a crime, or when speaking to a confidential informant.
Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley declined to comment when asked about that after the meeting. City council members did not make any public comments.
The Cook County state's attorney's office cleared Jensen of wrongdoing in February. But Clements' sister, Emmetia Sneed, said Wednesday at the meeting the officer "got away with murder, as cops usually do."
The officers that night had the goal of saving Clements' life, but the plan fell apart because of Jensen's actions, resident Gena McNamara said.
Jensen should have given Clements more time and space to get out of the vehicle, and any officers who said they feared for their lives that night should resign, resident Marcus Banner said.
"A courageous, competent man never would have drawn his gun under those circumstances," he said.
The consultant will present the report's findings during a special city council meeting at 9 a.m. July 20.
Jensen remains on paid administrative leave; city officials said a decision about his employment will be made public sometime after July 20.