One-third of iconic ‘90s R&B girl group TLC's T-Boz shared devastating news on Sunday (September 24) via Instagram, stating that her mentally challenged cousin, Eddie Russell Jr., was fatally gunned down by police in Illinois.
But despite local news outlets covering the tragic unfolding of events as a police standoff and Russell Jr. as a “bank robbery suspect,” T-Boz is demanding answers and justice for him after finding some holes in police testimonies.
T-Boz immediately began by challenging law enforcement’s use of force against Russell Simmons, who she says shot her cousin between 17 and 20 times, landing on a total of 18 times in the face and back of his head. She continues to explain that not only did he have mental health challenges, but the firing officers were aware of this and, thus, did not handle the situation appropriately.
She added that the police officers involved swindled his mother by using her to lure him out of the house under the pretense that they would settle things peacefully, only to fatally gun him down.
“He Harmed NO ONE EVER!” she said. “He Had Mental Health Issues AND THE COPS KNEW THAT! Anything he's ever Done Was minor and NON VIOLENT! Eddie Russell Jr -A Human-Being -A Son- Brother-Friend-Nephew - Cousin-HUMAN! The cops told his mother to call him out on a bullhorn USED her saying ‘WE WILL GIVE HIM THE HELP HE NEEDS’ and He Came Out Because He Heard His Mother and They used beyond excessive force to gun him down also with heavy artillery used in warfare! 18 times? Shot eighteen times???”
According to reports from Week.com, the Peoria Police Department, which responded to the incident, alleges he “came toward them with a gun” upon exiting his home. The site adds that he was identified as a suspect in a First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust robbery on the same day. Alleging that he ran to the house after the robbery, police claim that they attempted contact for over two hours before he “aggressively advanced” toward them when they were finally able to get him to leave the home. In details of the standoff, Peoria police also alleged that the handgun in his possession matched that of the gun he supposedly used in the bank robbery, Week.com reports. Six officers have since been placed on critical incident leave as an investigation is currently underway.
However, T-Boz came with her own proof for her claims, posting a video still of the news report that showed Russell Jr. at the bank, a video still which also shows no gun in his possession at the time. In addition to police officers offering up different stories about what happened, T-Boz said her suspicion also stems from the fact that no cameras or video footage of the incident is available, a move she believes was deliberate from responding police officers.
“They blocked everyone off including neighbors at a 4 block radius including his mother and father and family!,” she wrote. “People could NOT go home! So no camera phones accessible is that why? COPS DIDN'T HAVE ON BODY CAMS now isn't that convenient! They Lied and told family members Eddie Jr was at the hospital to get them away from the house knowing he was dead outside the house where they killed him! They kept his BODY OUTSIDE ON THE GROUND FOR MANY MANY HOURS!”
The “Waterfalls” songstress said she’s calling upon fans and the public to share the incident and Russell Jr.’s story. She reiterated that by no means was it a hostage situation either, but rather a “mentally ill young man who needed help and should have received just that.”
BET.com sends its deepest thoughts and prayers to T-Boz and the family of Eddie Russell Jr. during this time.
See T-Boz's official statement on the situation below.