CHATHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — Almost a year ago, Sunshine Clemons was leading Black Lives Matter protests in front of the Capitol.
She returned to the capitol steps today to talk about her brother’s recent encounter with police.
A Chatham police officer shot him four times outside his home two months ago.
“It’s just kind of a roller coaster of what you deal with. But it’s different seeing that roller coaster from a personal experience, than, you know, just advocating for other people who might be dealing with that,” Clemons said.
Thirty-year-old Gregory Small was threatening to take his own life at his home in Chatham. His mother called the police to help stop him.
Officers arrived on the scene, and shot Small four times after he allegedly charged at the officer with a knife in his hand. He survived, but has spent the last two months recovering.
The Chatham Police Department denied a FOIA request from WCIA for body camera and dash camera footage because both the prosecutors and the defense agree that it has a “substantial likelihood of depriving (Small) of a fair trial,” according to a letter from the State’s Attorney’s office Small’s mother has seen the video.
Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright did not file charges against the police officer, but did file criminal charges against Clemons’ brother.
“My main concern is the charges against my brother are dropped. That is that is what I care about in this moment. The rest of that I am not really at a place where I can really say that my singular focus is my brother,” Clemons said.
After a two-week state police investigation, Wright charged Small with felony aggravated assault — a charge that could bring a prison sentence anywhere from one to three years, with parole possible halfway through the sentence. In a statement, Wright defended the assault charge, saying it could force Small to get the help he needs.
“As a product of ongoing, transparent and productive coordination with defense counsel, I proposed a resolution which includes participation in the Sangamon County Mental Health Recovery Court and no record of conviction upon successful completion of that intensive treatment program.” – Wright said in a statement.
Small is still at home recovering from gunshots.
His sister said he shouldn’t have to go through the gauntlet of a criminal conviction just to get mental health treatment.
“We should not be further victimizing the victims by giving them criminal records.
If we’re supposed to be calling the officers for that they need better training on how to handle these type of situations. crisis intervention training is something that I think all officers should be equipped with and have a better resource than just you know, using the gun using the gun first,” Clemons said.