Singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins says her family is taking legal action against the Peoria Police Department after the shooting death of her mentally ill cousin. The star blasted the department over their treatment of Eddie Russell Jr. saying they used “beyond excessive force” and left his body for “many many hours.”
“It’s so disappointing,” Watkins tells TMZ Wednesday, Sept. 27 of the fact that she hadn’t heard from PPD. “My cousin, Anita Johnson — his mother — she’s going to sue the police department — Peoria Police Department — and she should. Because it’s unjust. The crime doesn’t fit the punishment. … This child had a non-violent record, never hurt anyone ever in his life. He was mentally ill — the police aren’t equipped to deal with mentally ill patients.
“Somebody’s life was taken,” she added. “But 18 times? No one deserves that.”
Watkins added that the story about what happened between Russell and police that night keeps changing. PPD released a statement last week saying they got a call about a bank robbery and identified Russell as the suspect. They located him at home and said he stepped outside and “aggressively advanced” toward officers. They shot the 25-year-old between 17 and 20 times and he died at the scene.
On Wednesday, Chief Jerry Mitchell issued a statement saying, “complete transparency with our community and upholding the integrity of the investigation are paramount for the Peoria Police Department. Illinois State Police is in charge of the investigation and we are reliant on their investigators to speak on the status.”
Related: Police and Excessive Force
The ISP has not released any statements regarding their investigation.
The update comes after Russell’s family held a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 26 where its lawyer stated it wanted a full investigation for Russell, who the attorney said was “executed.”
“It was unjustified, it was excessive force, and the family demands answers and a full investigation,” lawyer Andrew Stroth says. “The family demands reform, and the family demands justice.”
He later added that exactly what happened is unknown and that the initial report said there were four to six shots fired before the coroner said Russell may have been shot up to 18 times.
“It would be naive to believe and trust the narrative given by police given the evidence on so many cases across the country,” Stroth says.