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CPD didn’t protect woman from ex-boyfriend now charged with her murder: lawsuit

Shaquita Bennett | Photo provided

The mother of a woman whose ex-boyfriend has been charged with her murder is suing the Chicago Police Department, claiming officers and emergency dispatchers failed to respond to her daughter’s repeated pleas for protection.

Veardena Pryor’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, details how Shaquita Bennett tried to protect herself from her jilted ex-beau before she was killed last year.

Bennett, 31, was shot in the head about 10:15 a.m. April 5, 2018, in the hallway outside her apartment in the 6900 block of South Clyde, Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office reported. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deshawn Johnson, 34, was arrested and charged with murder, according to police and court records. He is being held without bail at the Cook County Jail; his next scheduled court appearance is April 14.

Deshawn Johnson | Chicago Police
Deshawn Johnson | Chicago Police

Pryor’s lawsuit claims her daughter made significant efforts to distance herself from her abusive former boyfriend, filing for protective orders and alerting police when Johnson violated those orders.

“I don’t know what else she was supposed to do,” Pryor told the Sun-Times last year. “He made her life a living hell, and then he killed her.”

After Bennett broke up with Johnson in the summer of 2013, he began “stalking, harassing, threatening, and abusing” her, the suit claims. Bennett filed for her first protective order on Aug. 19, 2013, claiming Johnson posed a threat to her and had guns she wanted him to hand over to the cops.

An emergency order of protection was issued that same day. But according to the suit, Johnson’s threats and abusive behavior continued, prompting Bennett to move and take a short leave from her job.

She and other people repeatedly called 911 about Johnson and his “constant threats”; the suit notes Bennett alerted police on at least 10 occasions.

Three years after their break up, on July 5, 2016, Bennett petitioned for a second protective order.

“I’m very scared. … I haven’t been home [in four days] because of him sitting around my house,” she wrote in a court filing.

Another emergency order of protection was entered that day, the suit says. A plenary order of protection was granted two months later, barring Johnson from having any contact with Bennett for two years, court records show.

Johnson violated the order on Dec 14, 2017, when he left Bennett a voicemail message threatening to “blow her brains out,” according to the lawsuit and prosecutors.

Bennett reported the threat to police; Johnson was arrested the next month and held on $10,000 bail, but he was released when the amount was dropped to $5,000, according to court records.

While out on bond, Johnson continued to violate the order of protection, according to the suit and prosecutors. During that time, he left Bennett 30 menacing voicemail messages — in four, he threatened to kill her, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, Johnson showed up at the Walgreens where Bennett worked early on March 5, 2018, according to authorities and the lawsuit. She reported the violation to police that morning and later told a detective she wanted to pursue charges.

On March 13, 2018, Johnson pleaded guilty to violating the protective order. He was sentenced to five days in jail, a year of probation and domestic-violence counseling, according to court records and the suit.

Days later, Johnson violated the order when he phoned Bennett and threatened to show up to her job and “go crazy,” prosecutors said. Police previously said she didn’t report the call; the lawsuit claims she did.

Johnson continued to violate the order of protection until Bennett was shot to death, the lawsuit alleges.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.