The family of Eldred Wells have filed a wrongful death lawsuit
JOLIET, Ill. — The Will County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday released police bodycam video from a November 2021 deadly shooting involving a 70-year-old man and his grandson.
“It’s horrible for so many reasons. It is tragic,” said attorney Keenan Saulter with Saulter Law P.C.
On the afternoon of Nov. 6, Will County deputies responded to the Joliet Township home of Eldred Wells. Two of his grandsons were there, with one calling 911 because his brother, 21-year-old Jabbar Muhammad, had a knife and was threatening Wells.
“The Will County Sheriff’s Office failed to de-escalate this situation,” Saulter said. “They were aware Jabbar Muhammad was suffering from a mental health crisis. He had just gotten out of a mental health facility after an intense 10-day period about four-to-five hours before this fatal shooting.”
Two deputies entered the home and found a television blaring loud music and Muhammad and his grandfather inside.
“What’s going on, man- put the knife down. Stop right there, please, please stop right there,” one deputy is heard saying.
One of the deputies draws his weapon and another removes his Taser.
“Put the knife down- put the knife down now- listen to me, please put it down now – please, please stop right there.”
Within 30 seconds of authorities entering the home, Muhammad refuses to drop the knife. Video shows Muhammed lunge at his grandfather, stabbing him in the neck, prompting deputies to open fire.
“It’s clear any wounds Mr. Wells received from Mr. Muhammad were superficial in nature [and] would have never caused his death,” Saulter said. “What caused his death was the fact he was shot through the back through his aortic artery. That was the actual cause of his death.”
The deputies called for an ambulance and at first, reported Muhammad was the only one shot. The video shows deputies opening Wells’ shirt and realizing he was also wounded.
Muhammad died at the scene. Wells was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Upon review by the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office determined it would not file any charges against the deputies. But last month, the Wells family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
“What should have occurred is the level of aggression that these officers displayed should have been taken down significantly,” Saulter said. “Our goal in bringing this lawsuit is to try to obtain a measure of justice for this family who has lost two members of the family that we believe didn’t have to occur.”
The Will County Sheriff’s Office responded to WGN News’ request for comment:
Deputies fired their service weapons at Jabbar Muhammad in defense of Eldred’s life. The investigation concluded that the officers that used deadly force in this encounter were justified in their actions and there were no policy violations associated with the actions of those officers. The Will County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our condolences to all of the family members of the Wells and Muhammed families affected by this incident.”
Will County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Dan Gungles
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