The six police officers involved in the Eddie Russell, Jr. shooting in 2017 have received the Peoria Police Department's Police Valor Award.
Sgt. Matthew Lane, and officers Christopher Heaton, Sean Johnston, Ian McDowell, Jason Leigh and Tyler Hodges were placed on paid administrative leave following the officer-involved shooting death of Russell in September 2017. Russell allegedly robbed the First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust in Peoria before fleeing to his parents' home.
After a standoff, police said Russell approached them pointing a handgun before the officers opened fire. Russell was shot 17 times. Peoria County State's Attorney Jerry Brady cleared the officers in January, saying the shooting was justified.
This is the second officer-involved shooting in Peoria in the past year. In an unrelated February incident, three officers were placed on paid administrative leave after Daniel El was fatally shot following an exchange of gunfire on Peoria's South Side after El allegedly fled a traffic stop. That investigation is still ongoing.
An awards ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. by the Fraternal Order of Police to honor the six officers was canceled until further notice, according to interim Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion III.
We have reached out to the Peoria Police Department for comment. In a brief statement, Interim Chief Marion said the NAACP has a right to express their opinion.