Although Peoria Police have been cleared of criminal charges in the shooting death of Eddie Russell Jr. Several of them, along with the city are now facing a civil lawsuit.
After an investigation the Peoria County State's Attorney found police were justified in their actions, but and attorney for the family says the stories don't match. Russell's family is claiming police used excessive force and weren't properly prepared for what happened that day on West Sheffield last September.
The Lawsuit filed in federal court in Peoria Sunday, alleges officers shot Eddie Russel Jr. at least 17 times as he lifted a garage door with both hands at the family's home. Police say they fired when Russell advanced toward them holding a gun. Russell had been holed up in the home as an identified suspect, caught on camera, allegedly robbing a bank earlier that morning. However, the attorney for the case, Andrew M. Stroth, says the stories don't match up.
According to Andrew M Stroth, Action Injury Law Group, "Within that moment, Anita lost her son. Within that moment Eddie Sr. lost his son. The narrative given by the police is inconsistent with other eyewitness testimonies and other facts." They further claim police knew the 25-year-old suffered from mental illness and the Russell family lawyer says if police had mental health trainin, this all could have been avoided.
"Actually one of them said to me," Anita Johnson, Eddie Russell Jr.'s mother said, "doesn't he have mental health problems? So they knew."
In January, following a months-long investigation, Peoria County States Attorney, Jerry Brady cleared all six police officers in the fatal shooting. Just months later, those officers were awarded valor awards. Something the attorney calls disrespectful and insensitive.
I just think your giving an award to officers who, from our perspective, unjustifiably and unconstitutionally shot and killed a 25-year-old-man. It's unacceptable," Stroth said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and it names Peoria and several officers as defendants. According to Stroth, a large part of the lawsuit is to force the city to deal with this shooting case and hopefully prevent a repeat incident.
A lawyer for the city sent our newsroom this statement and it simply said, "As is the case of all pending litigation. The city has no comment at this time."