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Russell family files lawsuit against City of Peoria

PEORIA, Ill. - A federal lawsuit has been filed by the estate of a Peoria man shot and killed by Peoria Police last September. 

The suit claims Eddie Russell Jr. was unjustifiably shot outside his mother's central Peoria home by six Peoria Police officers. It names all six officers and the City of Peoria as defendants. The 25 year old was shot after he allegedly robbed a local bank, went to his mother's home and would not come out for police for several hours.When he came outside, officers say he had a weapon in his hand and was moving toward them. The investigation says Russell was shot 17-18 times. 

The civil rights lawsuit, filed Sunday afternoon in the Central District of Illinois, says the shooting was without lawful justification. It says Russell was shot without cause or provocation while he was using both hands to lift up the door to the garage. The suit also claims Russell suffered from schizoaffective bipolar disorder and the police officers who shot him knew he suffered from mental illness. The suit contends the officers were not properly trained to handle a situation involving someone with mental illness or crisis intervention. 

The family states in the lawsuit that after Russell was shot police told them to follow an ambulance to the hospital. They believe it was a "decoy ambulance" to get them away from the scene. The suit also claims there was a conspiracy among members of the police department and city of Peoria to cover up misconduct by the officers in the shooting death. 

The nine-count lawsuit is asking for punitive damages and other additional relief the court deems equitable, just, necessary and proper. 

Earlier this year, Peoria County State's Attorney Jerry Brady wrapped up his investigation by determining the officers acted in self-defense.

The Russell Family held a news conference Monday morning. They were joined by Reverend Marvin Hightower, Bishop Joseph Johnson, the ACLU and Andrew Stroth with the Action Injury Law Group. 

Stroth says there is a history of Peoria Police officers using excessive force and the best vehicle for change in holding the police department and city accountable is a federal lawsuit.

"The officers executed a military style mission and shot a young man who was in mental health crisis and they knew Eddie suffered from mental illness and they knew he didn't suffer a threat to the officers or anyone else," Stroth said. He adds, "the PPD also has a code of silence just like in Chicago, when these bad acts occur, it's are contention that officers cover up and hide for this misdeeds of their officers."


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