T-Boz’s family suing police over cousin’s shooting death

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TLC singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins’ family is suing the Peoria, Illinois, police department after the fatal shooting of her cousin, Eddie Russell, Jr.

“My cousin, Anita Johnson — his mother — she’s going to sue the Peoria Police Department, and she should, ’cause it’s unjust. The crime doesn’t fit the punishment,” Watkins, 47, told TMZ Wednesday. “The fact that people can actually murder people and still breathe and walk out with the cops — and this child had a nonviolent record [and] never hurt anyone ever in his life.”

Russell Jr., 25, was reportedly shot 17 to 20 times after police attempted to contact him at his home for more than two hours following his alleged involvement in a local bank robbery.

Watkins said that police used Russell Jr.’s mother to get them to come outside, at which point police claimed that Russell Jr. advanced with a firearm, leading to a shootout.

But the “No Scrubs” songstress doesn’t believe the cops’ account.

“He was mentally ill. The police aren’t equipped to deal with mentally ill patients, they didn’t wait for the person to show up and come … There’s just so many different stories and lies,” she said, adding, “Somebody’s life was taken, but [being shot] 18 times? No one deserves that. It wasn’t a standoff, he didn’t come out shooting, even if he had a gun, he didn’t murder nobody, he didn’t threaten nobody’s life, he didn’t hold a gun to nobody’s head — none of that. Nothing was threatening … and if he was walking towards you, how did you blow the back of his head off? He needs justice.”

Watkins and Russell Jr.’s other family members have called for a full investigation into the incident.

“It was unjustified, it was excessive force, and the family demands answers and a full investigation,” attorney Andrew Stroth told press Tuesday. “The family demands reform, and the family demands justice. We want to make sure that the city of Peoria and the Peoria Police Department and the Illinois State Police do a full and transparent investigation into what happened last week to Eddie Russell, Jr.”

Russell Jr.’s father fumed, “We are absolutely outraged at the execution of Edward Russell, Jr. He did not deserve to die … We are not even cautiously optimistic about the fact that a thorough investigation will be conducted by the Illinois State Police.”

“Complete transparency with our community and upholding the integrity of the investigation are paramount for the Peoria Police Department,” Peoria police Chief Jerry Mitchell told the Peoria Journal Star in a statement. “Illinois State Police is in charge of the investigation and we are reliant on their investigators to speak on the status. Know that we are doing everything we can to provide information and assist ISP as much as possible while continuing to work to keep our community safe,” Mitchell said.



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