Girlfriend of shooting suspect calls killing unjustified - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Girlfriend of shooting suspect calls killing unjustified

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The girlfriend of the suspect in Thursday morning's fatal shooting that left a police officer injured and left her boyfriend dead is speaking out.

Amber Strong says that she believes that Peoria police were not justified in shooting Daniel El after he fled the scene during a routine traffic stop at Western and Lincoln Avenue. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says El had been shot 16 times.

Police Chief Jerry Mitchell said it started with a routine traffic stop and escalated when El tried to run from officers, ending in, as Mitchell called it, "an exchange of gunfire." But Strong says she thinks the killing was unjustified and excessive.    

Amber Strong said El called her during that traffic stop to ask where the current insurance card was inside her vehicle. 

"Daniel was very calm, very cooperative, he didn't have an attitude, he wasn't being sarcastic," she said.

Strong says the first officer who made contact with El also appeared calm. She says it wasn't until she heard the voice of a second officer that El's tone changed. She added the last thing she could clearly hear was El telling an officer that both his hands were on the steering wheel.

Peoria police say after a passenger had gotten out of the vehicle and El drove off, a chase ensued. Police say El crashed into a pole and ran. That's when the shots were fired, leaving that officer wounded by a shot to the torso and El dead.

"The wounds to the chest were lethal clearly.  He was struck in the chest, the abdomen and the pelvis as well as different portions of his extremities," said Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood.

The three officers involved in the shooting are on leave pending the outcome of the state police investigation, per standard procedure.  Police say that one of the officers involved was also involved in the death of another man back in September during a standoff.   He was exonerated recently when the Peoria County state's attorney ruled police were justified in the Eddie Russell, Junior shooting.

25 News reached out to police for comment today, but they declined to share any additional information at this time pending the ongoing investigation, other than to tell us that the injured officer remained in the hospital. That officer still has not been identified.

The Peoria Community Against Violence will hold a standup for peace Monday, at 6pm at the Gateway building on the riverfront.

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