WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) – Demonstrators caused the early shutdown of the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan Friday as they protested the fatal police-involved shooting of a teenager last month in Zion.
LaToya Howell, the mother of 17-year-old Justus Howell, led about 30 protesters onto the street in front of the Lake County Courthouse and blocked traffic.
She held a sign aloft that read “Justice for Justus” as she led demonstrators onto Sheridan Road. Howell said police were “killing us and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Lake County government officials closed the courthouse early Friday in anticipation of the demonstration, fearing more than 2,000 people could attend.
State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said Thursday the Zion police officer was justified in shooting the teen twice in the back because he was carrying a loaded handgun. Howell had allegedly been involved in an illegal gun sale minutes before and fled on foot, prompting the officer to chase him.
Nerheim said at least four independent witnesses saw Howell running away from Officer Eric Hill with a gun in his hand, and refusing Hill’s orders to stop and drop the weapon.
The fatal shooting of Howell, an African American, occurred amid highly publicized police-involved shootings or deaths involving black suspects elsewhere in the country.
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