CHICAGO (SCS) — The family of two men shot dead by Will County sheriff’s deputies during a domestic dispute last year are suing not only the sheriff’s office, but the hospital where the grandson in the shooting had previously been treated for a mental illness.
The deputies who shot the men have also been cleared of criminal charges and are back on the streets, the task force investigating the shooting said on Friday.
Deputies shot and killed both Jabbar Muhammad, 21, and his 70-year-old grandfather, Eldred Wells Sr.,while answering a home disturbance call.
According to two lawsuits filed on behalf of the men, when deputies arrived they saw Jabbar holding a knife in his right hand and Eldred standing a few feet away, unarmed. But, rather than separating the two to protect Eldred and “provide the best opportunity to defuse domestic conflict”, the lawsuits accuse the deputies of flailing and yelling at Jabbar.
“When the growing shouting and commotion became too much, Jabbar Muhammad lunged” at his grandfather, and the deputies shot them repeatedly, killing them, according to the prosecution.
Lawyers for Jabbar’s family also point to Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital, where he had been treated for more than a week before the shooting, after a previous suicide attempt.
According to the lawsuit filed by Jabbar’s mother, Rhonda Wells, the hospital negligently released him on the day of the shooting “before it was safe to release him.”
Despite being diagnosed with psychosis, repeatedly refusing to take his medication, admitting “he wanted to kill people all the time” and telling doctors he had a bad temper and would have access to knives in the home he shared with his grandfather, Jabbar was released from the hospital hours before the shooting, according to the lawsuit.
“Silver Oaks Behavioral, LLC breached the standard of care by negligently and negligently discharging Jabbar Muhammad on November 6, 2021 in a residential environment that was unsafe for him given his clinical condition,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, this negligence directly made Jabbar susceptible to turmoil and violence, becoming a risk to himself and others, and ultimately sparking the domestic conflict that resulted in his and his grandfather’s death.
These family accusations and the details outlined in the lawsuits are the latest developments in a police shooting that has been shrouded in secrecy since it took place. CBS 2 investigators first reported in April howthat the deputies had not only shot Jabbar, but also Eldred.
Our investigation also revealed how the Will County Sheriff’s Office denied the family multiple opportunities to view the video. It wasn’t until after our first report and the family’s trial under the Freedom of Information Act that officials finally agreed to show them the body camera footage privately in late April.
Paramedic reports obtained by the family and reviewed by CBS 2 detail a chaotic scene in the aftermath of the shooting. A report states that when paramedics arrived, officers found Jabbar and Eldred “lying on the floor in a pool of blood, with two officers performing compressions on the two patients”.
Another paramedic report said Jabbar had 15 gunshot wounds – three to the head and 12 to other parts of his body. Paramedics also found stab wounds to Eldred’s neck and shoulder. He was later pronounced dead in hospital.
But there was something else in the reports that the family didn’t know until they received Eldred’s patient care report about a month after the incident. As paramedics examined Eldred’s body, they noticed a gunshot wound to his back and left hand – information the Will-Grundy County Task Force, the agency investigating the incident, reported. have never disclosed in any of their public statements about the incident.
In addition, Jabbar suffered from mental illness and deputies had already been called to his home, CBS 2 learned.
But the task force also did not release this information to the public.
Several spokespersons at the time of CBS 2’s initial reporting in April declined to explain why they chose not to include this information in the official press release about the incident. In interviews with CBS 2, the family said officials left them in the dark until they could get paramedic reports, which kept them from shutting down.
Rhonda Wells, Jabbar’s mother and Eldred’s daughter, said she and her family fought for months to see the video and other public documents to find out the truth about what happened. . But they faced repeated roadblocks from agencies investigating the incident, including the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force. That’s when the family came to CBS 2.
“I just want to know what happened. Why ? Wells asked in a previous interview. “Don’t just leave us with our thoughts. Just let us know… we have nothing. We just want to know the facts.
Although the Will County Sheriff’s Office has a de-escalation policy outlining rules governing when deputies can use force, the agency has previously said it has no policy outlining how to respond to calls. when a person is going through a mental health crisis.
Departmental policy states that a deputy who uses lethal force must be removed from duty and placed on paid leave, pending an administrative review. On Friday, the task force said the criminal investigation into the deputies involved in the Nov. 6 shooting was completed this summer and the officers were cleared of all criminal charges. The task force also said the officers were back on regular duty.
Officials did not release the names of the deputies who were involved and fired the shots.
It could also be a long time before the public sees the video of the shooting. A spokesperson for the task force previously said officials would not release the clips until all investigations are complete, including the internal investigation, which is separate from the criminal investigation into the officers.
Requests for information from several agencies about the names of the deputies, the status of the internal investigation and comments on the trial were not returned Friday afternoon. This includes requests made by CBS 2 to the sheriff’s office, the task force investigating the shooting, and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, which investigated the deputies involved. CBS 2 has also reached out to Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital for comment.