Calumet City teen shot, killed by police

February 2, 2012 8:49:40 PM PST
A 15-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome was fatally shot by Calumet City police after he allegedly threatened officers with a butter knife.

Police were called to the boy's home in the 500-block of Forsythe Avenue around 8:30 a.m. by his parents when he became angry and refused to go to school. Stephon Watts had Asperger syndrome, which is an autistic-type disorder, according to his mother, Danelene Powell-Watts.

Powell-Watts said her husband called police when Stephon became violent after being told he couldn't use the computer. He was in the basement with a butter knife, according to Powell-Watts.

"He had a butter knife. My husband said he lunged at a police officer," she said.

Police say Stephon slashed an officer in the left forearm with a kitchen knife.

"At that time he was cornered and, having no way to retreat, the officers fired one shot each -- striking the offender twice," Calumet City Police Chief Edward Gilmore said. Stephon was hit in the torso.

Those officers have been placed on administrative leave while the Illinois State Police investigates.

Officials say they have been called to the Watts home 12 times since June 2010. The Watts family said doctors and social workers told them the only way to get Stephon hospitalized when he was violent was to call police first.

"He is well-known to this department as someone who will grab a knife and likes to fight with his fists and a knife, and unfortunately today when he slashed the officer's arm, the officer felt his life was in jeopardy and he had nothing else to do but defend himself," Police Chief Gilmore said.

The Watts family doesn't understand why police didn't use a stun gun on Stephon, as they have in the past. Chief Edward Gilmore said only one of the two officers was carrying a stun gun.

"It seems to me they would know how to deal with child because they've been here before. It is not the first time," Wayne Watts said.

"They didn't have to murder him. They shot to kill," Powell-Watts said.