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Vigil for Rashad Cunningham

Pierre Williams, of Chicago, lights a candle Aug. 19 at a vigil for Rashad Cunningham who was killed by a Gary police officer. Williams is Cunningham's cousin.

GARY — The family of Rashad Cunningham, the man shot and killed by a city cop Aug. 17, made an appeal once again to the City Council for answers.

Cunningham’s uncle, Ivan Simmons, attended Tuesday’s council meeting at ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen in downtown Gary to say the family recently buried his nephew but the lingering unknowns into the police shooting investigation weighs heavily on the family.

“I know you said … let the investigation takes its natural course, but time and time again, it always ends up that the victim was the one who aggressor instead of a cop just making a mistake. Sometimes, people make mistakes and when you make mistakes, just own up to it,” he said.

Cunningham’s mother, Tonia Simmons, said she “needs closure.”

“It’s been over two weeks,” she said. “Here again, we want answers.”

She said her son, age 25, was “an innocent man” who was licensed to carry and shot dead in front of his home.

According to Gary police, officers responded to a call of "shots fired" in the area at 3:16 a.m. that day, encountering a parked vehicle with three people inside. They approached the vehicle to investigate, and, in the process, police said “a police officer's weapon was discharged,” resulting in his death.

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The Gary Police Department have declined to provide any further information about the incident as the Lake County Sheriff’s Department investigates.

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Tonia Simmons said Tuesday she hoped the family could receive something — 911 audio — but they’ve been denied any details so far.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department was tapped as an outside agency to lead the investigation into the police-involved shooting. Gary City Council President Ronald Brewer said he asked Sheriff Oscar Martinez if he can release the 911 tape, and he declined.

The family has protested and marched throughout the city in recent weeks, with the support of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter-Gary.

Sources identified the Gary officer as Isiah Price III. Price faced past disciplinary action while a Gary officer for punching a teen in the stomach and then lying about it to his superiors, records show.

The family of Cunningham has questioned why Price was allowed to remain on the force after that incident, for which he received a 30-day suspension.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.