Family wants names of two Cal City cops involved in teen's shooting death

2012-03-20T10:30:00Z 2012-03-20T12:10:41Z Family wants names of two Cal City cops involved in teen's shooting deathBy Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
March 20, 2012 10:30 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | The family of a teen boy who died after being shot by police is seeking the names of the two Calumet City police officers who were involved.

Attorneys representing mother Danelene Powell-Watts filed the legal action in Cook County Circuit Court on Friday just before the court closed for the weekend.

Attorney Marion Victoria Cruz said she wants the information to prepare a more thorough lawsuit that would seek financial damages for the family of 15-year-old Stephon Watts.

"We've tried asking the city for the information and filed a (Freedom of Information Act) request, but it has been denied," Cruz said Monday.

The initial legal action asks a judge to issue a court order that would force Calumet City police to disclose the names of the two officers involved in the Feb. 1 shooting death.

Police were at the teen's home after the family had trouble getting Watts to go to school. Police Chief Edward Gilmore has said Watts compelled the two officers to shoot after he cut one of the officers on the arm with a kitchen knife. Family members have said Watts had a butter knife.

Until now, city officials have refused to identify the two officers, other than to say both are on administrative leave until a criminal investigation is complete. The Illinois State Police investigation has been referred to the Cook County state's attorney's office, which has not announced whether it intends to seek criminal charges against either officer.

The legal action also seeks any audio or video recordings and other documents the Police Department has that relate to the shooting.

As of Monday, no hearings had been scheduled concerning the legal action, although Cruz said it could be "a couple of weeks" before anything happens.

Police officials have said the Feb. 1 incident was the 12th time they had been called to the family's home to deal with domestic disputes involving the teen, who had Asperger's syndrome. The legal action also seeks to obtain any documentation police have about those incidents.

Although Watts was 220 pounds and 5 feet 10 inches tall, his family has said he had the "emotional capacity" of a baby and could not comprehend his actions fully.

Gilmore had little to say Monday about the legal action.

"There's nothing I can say," he said. "I'm not prepared to speak about this."

Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said, as of Monday afternoon, the city had not been notified officially of the legal action. Qualkinbush said she is waiting to hear from the Cook County state's attorney's office about the case.

"I have reached out to them to let them know this is important to us," she said.

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