Elgin, IL – An Illinois police chief refused to back down on Tuesday when he was confronted by a crowd of protesters outside the police station, following the officer-involved shooting of a woman armed with a knife (video below).
Elgin Police Department (EPD) Chief Jeffrey Swoboda stood among the protesters, as he answered their questions regarding the death of 34-year-old Decynthia Clements.
“How could you justify any officer pulling a trigger, when there is no gun present from the opposition?” a man in the crowd asked him angrily. “With all his training?”
“The idea that some people have that I will never be able to change, is that if you come at me with a knife, that I need to wrestle it away from you or I need to let you stab me in the chest because I wear a bullet proof vest,” Chief Swoboda fired back. “That’s not how the real world works. You come at a police officer with a knife, you’re probably getting shot.”
The officers briefly pursued her, but ultimately terminated the chase.
Clements told the approaching officers that she was armed with knives, and proceeded to barricade herself inside the car, WLS reported.
Police backed down, and negotiated with Clements for over an hour.
She then ignited a fire inside her vehicle, police said.
“As officers were approaching her, to get her out of a burning car, that’s when she exited on her own with the knife, and was shot,” Chief Swoboda told the protesters.
Clements was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead, WGN reported.
"Why shoot her instead of tase her?" Clement’s son calmly asked the chief on Tuesday.
Chief Swoboda told him that a Taser was deployed, but that Clement was also shot.
Clement’s family has argued that her death was unnecessary, and claimed that the 4 foot 11 inch, 100-pound woman posed no threat to officers with shields and body armor, WGN reported.
Police could have made better efforts to deescalate the situation, the family claimed.
At least seven officers were wearing bodycams during the incident, and each of them was activated, Chief Swoboda told WLS.
The fatal shots were fired by Lieutenant Christian Jensen, a 19-year veteran of the department, according to the department.
He has been placed on paid administrative leave – which is standard protocol – while the Illinois State Police conducted their investigation.
You can watch a clip of Chief Swoboda’s interaction with the protestors in the video below: