TLC Singer T-Boz says police shot her special needs cousin 18 times, needlessly

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (pictured right), part of the R&B singing group, TLC, is seeking justice for her special needs cousin, who was fatally shot by Illinois police officers on Wednesday.

The Journal Star reports that two officers with the Peoria Police Department shot Eddie Russell Jr., 25, 18 times after he allegedly robbed the First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust. Surveillance footage apparently recorded Russell Jr. and once authorities received information on his identification, they drove to his home on Wednesday.

According to a press release by Peoria PD, officers spotted Russell Jr. outside of his home; they claimed Russell Jr. approached them carrying what looked like a handgun. The officers fired at Russell Jr. numerous times, fatally injuring him.

“My Cousin Was Shot 18 Times Including the Face and Back of His Head! He Harmed NO ONE EVER! He Had Mental Health Issues AND THE COPS KNEW THAT!” Watkins “tweeted” shortly after the incident.

The singer claimed that Russell Jr. didn’t have a gun in his possession. She also wrote that the officers changed their stories several times after the incident, first claiming the suspect charged after them, then later indicating the he “walked aggressively” toward them.

Police, however, recovered a gun at the scene and said it was the same gun used during the bank robbery. Watkins disputed their claims and alleged the officers didn’t use body cams during the incident. Further, she claimed that the officers knew of the suspect’s mental health issues beforehand, but didn’t take the proper measures when dealing with someone with mental health disabilities.

“This was a mentally iLL young man who needed help and should have received just that! PLEASE HELP HIS MOTHER AND SPREAD HER STORY SO SHE CAN GET THE HELP SHE NEEDS AND JUSTICE FOR HER SON!!!!”

Reportedly, Russell Jr. had recently been released from a mental health facility; his father said he pleaded with the officers to let him talk to his son. Officers allegedly told the father to “trust us” shortly before firing shots at Russell Jr.

Police Involved Shooting (Update)Peoria, IL – Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Peoria Police Officers shot and killed an…

Posted by Peoria Police Department on Friday, September 22, 2017

On Monday evening, around 150 people gathered for the Stand Up for Peace rally in Peoria, to honor Russell Jr. and to talk about effective measures for conflict resolution in the city.

“The biggest thing we need to do in this city is to learn better conflict resolution,”Chairman of Peoria Community Against Violence, Terry Burnside, said. “We need to learn how to solve problems without guns. A young man is dead because of a gun — regardless of how it happened, who shot and the motive. The Stand Up is a safe place for the community to unite and say violence has no place in our community.”

The Illinois State Police is currently investigating the incident.

[Feature Photo: AP/Matt Sayles/Invision]