CHICAGO — Antonio LeGrier hoped police would help his son when he called 911 last week.
Instead, an officer shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier dead inside a Chicago apartment building.
“I never once thought that when he entered that staircase, that his life would be ended by someone who didn’t know what to do,” Antonio LeGrier said, crying as he described his son’s final moments to CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Tuesday. “Now my only son is gone, and I don’t know what to do.”
The father said he called out for help after the shooting but never saw police or paramedics provide medical aid to his son. Then, he said, police held him for questioning for hours after the shooting, not telling him whether his son, an engineering student at Northern Illinois University, had lived or died.
“I feel like I was robbed of everything,” he said.
Quintonio LeGrier died from multiple gunshot wounds, the Cook County Medical Examiner said.
Now, his father says he’s filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city so the situation won’t get swept under the rug.
“I need the nation to know, Antonio LeGrier, father of Quintonio LeGrier, raised a good son that went to school and provided good grades and had a beautiful future in front of him that was snuffed out by inexperienced officers,” he said. “That is obviously running rampant throughout the United States.”
The shooting is the latest in a string of officer-involved shootings that have left the city on edge and sparked protests nationwide.
As details emerge, mayor orders new approach
The shooting over the weekend, which also killed LeGrier’s 55-year-old neighbor, Bettie Jones, comes as Chicago officials are in hot water for what some critics have slammed as a police culture of “shoot first and ask questions later.”
Last month prosecutors announced an officer would face a first-degree murder charge in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Amid growing protests over that case and other officer-involved shootings, the city’s police commissioner resigned.
As details about the weekend shooting emerged, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said there were “serious questions” about what happened and ordered changes in how city police officers are trained to handle calls involving people who may have mental health problems. Some members of LeGrier’s family have said he suffered from mental illness, CNN affiliate WLS reported, but the teen’s mother has disputed that characterization.
“Stop disparaging his character,” she pleaded Sunday. “He does not have mental issues. He was an honors student.”
According to a Washington Post analysis, more than a quarter of police shootings in the United States this year have involved victims with signs of mental illness.
Antonio LeGrier told CNN he called police after he heard his son banging with a baseball bat on his bedroom door early Saturday morning. The father told the Chicago Sun-Times that his son had been prescribed medication for emotional problems. Asked whether he relayed details about that when he called 911, he told CNN he couldn’t recall the exact words he used during the early morning call.
“I wanted someone to try to help him with whatever he was going through,” he said, “because I was not trained.”
Police describe ‘combative subject’
Police have described Jones as a victim who was “accidentally struck and tragically killed.” But their statement about the shooting used a different phrase to describe Quintonio LeGrier.
“Officers responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence,” the statement said. “Upon arrival, officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon which fatally wounded two individuals.”
Bill Foutris, an attorney representing LeGrier, said the evidence doesn’t support the police explanation. The officer was at least 20 feet away from the building when he opened fire, Foutris said.
“This is just an after-the-fact justification trying to justify what happened,” Foutris said. “The facts don’t bear that out.”
Antonio LeGrier said his son — and their family members — are victims, too. But he said he also wanted to send condolences to the family members of the officer who shot his son.
“I’m sure he’s hurting as well,” LeGrier said, “because he has to live with the fact that he shot blindly into a doorway without thinking about who or what he would hit.”
Officials haven’t identified the officer involved in the shooting, but have said the officer has been placed on administrative duty for 30 days. The shooting is being investigated by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority.