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Elgin police release 30 hours of video in fatal police-involved shooting

An image taken from an Elgin police body camera of a fatal police-involved shooting March 12, 2018, on Interstate 90. | Elgin police

Elgin police released 30 hours of footage from dash and body-worn cameras Thursday that captured the fatal police-involved shooting of 34-year-old Decynthia Clements earlier this month on Interstate 90.

Police have said an officer first made contact with a suspicious vehicle about 12:30 a.m. March 12 on Cedar Avenue in Elgin and the vehicle was spotted again with “obvious damage” on I-90 near Route 25.

After stopping the vehicle, police have said they tried to negotiate with Clements for more than an hour before a fire started inside her vehicle.

Footage from a body camera worn by the police lieutenant who fired the fatal shots shows him inside a patrol car as he notices smoke coming from inside Clements’ vehicle and leaking from the windows.

Alerting other officers, the lieutenant approaches the burning vehicle and puts a shield in front of himself that blocks the camera. The officer instructs others to get ready with a Taser as they make preparations to get Clements out of the vehicle as it burns.

“Yeah, we’re going to need to get her out, boys,” a voice says.

Clements steps out of the vehicle amid a plume of smoke and officers shout for her to show them her hands. Someone calls out that she has a knife and three shots are heard. The lieutenant then requests an ambulance.

Police identified the lieutenant as a 19-year veteran of the force. Other videos released show the shooting from multiple angles, including one that appears to show a shiny object in Clements’ hand.

Clements was taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estate, where she was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The officer’s use of force is under investigation by Illinois State Police.

In a statement Thursday accompanying the release of the videos, police said they held a briefing earlier with Clement’s family, as well as community and faith leaders.

“We understand very well that this incident has impacted our community,” Chief of Police Jeff Swoboda said in the statement. “We also understand that releasing this video footage, which can be very troubling to view, is one step we can take towards transparency and accountability.”

Police also acknowledged peaceful demonstrations held at the police department since the shooting, and said the videos were released to provide answers to Clement’s family and the community.

“We know that we can’t do our jobs effectively without support from the community we serve,” Swoboda said. “Every incident brings opportunities for us to learn and grow. While the family, department and community heal, know that we will continue to be transparent.”