One by one, family members and friends of Quintonio LeGrier streamed into a small West Side funeral home room on Friday to say goodbye to the kid who made it through a tough childhood only to be shot dead by a Chicago Police officer during a winter break from college.
LeGrier, 19, was laid to rest in a shiny navy blue suit. His classmates from Northern Illinois University trickled in. They remembered him as the guy who made them laugh. The one who ate Cap’n Crunch with two spoons to get a smile at the school’s cafeteria.
“It’s just going to be weird walking down the halls, and he’s just not there. It’s weird that he’s not going to be Snapchatting me or Facetiming me,” Alexandria Moore, 19, of Auburn-Gresham said outside the House of Branch.
LeGrier was killed on Dec. 26 as police responded to a domestic dispute between him and his father as LeGrier wielded a bat. Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five who rented the apartment downstairs, opened the door when police arrived.
In a statement, police said officers were confronted by a combative subject, which resulted in the officer discharging his weapon, killing two people. Jones was “accidentally struck and tragically killed,” police said. LeGrier died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
LeGrier’s father has said his son was a “whiz kid” who had some emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. This past Thanksgiving, LeGrier was admitted to Weiss Memorial Hospital, where he was prescribed some medication to deal with his issues.
Moore said she’s struggling with his death and doesn’t understand why police opened fire.
“I just don’t see why seven shots were needed because he had a bat. I just don’t understand why that was needed. I don’t understand why the lady was killed. There could have been another way to tackle the situation. A Taser or something,” Moore said. “There should have been something else that was incorporated because I’m sure there were numerous times that someone has called 911 for someone who’s mentally ill.”
Moore smiled each time she spoke of LeGrier, the goofball who wore shorts in the winter and took funny videos: “He was so cool and funny.”
LeGrier went into the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at age 5 after being abused by his mother, records show. Mary Strenger became his foster mom until he began attending NIU in the fall of 2014 to study electrical engineering.
Legrier’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city days after the shooting, alleging that his son was inside the home and the officer opened fire multiple times from a distance of 20 to 30 feet away.
Janet Cooksey, LeGrier’s mother, on Friday said she wants nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Cooksey, who wore her son’s high school class ring on her finger, said she wants justice for her son, but that she has received no information or reports about his death.
She cried as she talked about her son.
“I’m not just saying it because he was my child, but he was adorable. And he cared about people. He ran that marathon [the Chicago Marathon in 2013 to raise money to bring clean drinking water to children in Africa]. He loved people. That’s why he’s going to get love. He’s going to get love and justice.”
She questioned why police have not released her son’s belongings to his family.
“He wore an angel around his neck,” Cooksey said. “They said I have to wait til the investigation is over. I want his angel now. I want what he wore around his neck. I want it now. Why would I have to wait to get that? I shouldn’t have to wait. That’s just not right.”
Loretta Murdock, a family friend whose daughter attended school with LeGrier, said he was the quiet and shy kid.
“He would hold his head down but he was so bright. He was probably the smartest kid in the class,” Murdock, of Morgan Park said.
She said he would stay at the school after hours, cleaning up the library or desks.
“It’s just such a heartbreaking end,” Murdock said. “So young.”
LeGrier’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington. The wake is scheduled for 11 a.m. with funeral services beginning at noon.