The Peoria chapter of NAACP does not feel six Peoria police officers should have received awards for valor.
The Peoria Police Department’s yearly Police Week award ceremony Wednesday included 2017 Police Valor Awards to the six officers involved in the fatal shooting of Eddie Russell Jr.
Russell was fatally shot Sept. 20, 2017 after a standoff at a home in the 2900 block of West Sheffield Drive. Russell had gone to the house after allegedly robbing a bank on Sterling Ave.
Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady determined in January that the officers were justified in using excessive force to subdue Russell.
“All officers reported seeing the gun in Russell’s right hand prior to the shooting while he advanced quickly toward those officers,” Brady said during a news conference. “As Russell had advanced toward (the officers) he continued to raise and lower his handgun at about a 45-degree angle.”
News partner 25 News reports local NAACP President Marvin Hightower said Friday officers should have avoided killing Russell because of his mental health issues. Hightower said he told then Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell in January that, in his opinion, the officers should not be awarded for their actions.
“It would be just flat out inappropriate for (the police department) to reward these officers for shooting and killing Junior,” Hightower said.
Russell’s father, Eddie Russell, Sr., also spoke out against the officers’ awards.
“You can’t honor something that’s not honorable,” Russell, Sr. said. “You just can’t do it. It doesn’t add up. I’m not going to be silent anymore because there are many juniors out there.”
Interim Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion III in a statement to 25 News, said, “The NAACP has a right to express its opinion.”
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police had scheduled an awards ceremony of its own Friday to honor the officers involved in the Eddie Russell Jr. shooting, as well as those involved in another police involved shooting of Daniel El, 33, in Peoria Feb. 1.
The Journal Star reports Marion asked for the postponement because the Illinois State Police is still conducting an investigation of the February shooting.
Hightower said he was happy when police called him to say the FOP event was postponed.