A 34-year-old Elgin woman was shot and killed by police early Monday after a vehicle chase and hourlong negotiation with officers, Elgin police said.
Decynthia S. Clements was shot along Interstate 90 between Route 25 and Beverly Road near Elgin, officials said.
Clements' brother Chevelle Clements said the family is stunned by her death and has lots of questions.
"She had an outgoing spirit. She was always willing to help people," he said. "If you look at her friends on Facebook, they are all saying she's not a violent person. So why is she dead?"
The shooting, which resulted in the tollway being shut down for about eight hours, happened after police started chasing Clements' sport utility vehicle on Cedar Avenue about 12:34 a.m., authorities said. Officers eventually dropped the pursuit, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said, but later came across the damaged vehicle stopped on westbound I-90.
As officers attempted to talk with the woman, they noticed she had a knife, Swoboda said.
Officers tried to negotiate with her for more than an hour as she periodically moved her car several feet along I-90, police spokeswoman Kristie Hilton said.
Officers eventually saw that a fire had started in the vehicle and they approached the vehicle to pull the woman out, Hilton said.
At some point, an officer fired his gun, Hilton said.
The officer was identified as Christian Jensen, a 19-year-veteran of the department and member of the SWAT unit. He was promoted to lieutenant in January 2017 when he was assigned to the gang crimes unit. He serves as an adviser to the Police Explorer program.
Jensen has been put on administrative leave while the investigation is underway, which is protocol after police discharge a firearm, Swoboda said.
Jensen has received several awards, including supervisor of the year in 2014 and an "outstanding partner" award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in December. Jensen is related to an employee of Paddock Publications, which owns the Daily Herald.
The Daily Herald has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for any disciplinary records about Jensen.
Swoboda said it's too early to determine the exact sequence of events. "Nobody's even looked at the body camera yet," he said Monday. In January, the Elgin Police Department reported 95 percent of officers were equipped with body cameras.
Illinois State Police spokesman Donald Orseno said the agency is investigating at the request of Elgin police and the investigation is expected to take months.
Elgin police and state police declined to answer further questions, such as how many officers were on the scene when the shooting happened. They did not say why they initially began pursuing her.
"I wish to express our condolences to the family. We are all very saddened by this incident," Swoboda said.
Decynthia Clements had a 19-year-old son and was not married, Chevelle Clements said. She grew up in Elgin in a family of eight siblings, attended Elgin High School and held several jobs, including working as a store cashier and in-home helper, he said.
She had some minor run-ins with the law, including a DUI charge in 2015 in DuPage County, court records show, "but nothing that would explain anything like this," her brother said. "That's why we are all puzzled."
Her longtime friend Shauna Douglas said Decynthia Clements was a great aunt to Douglas' four children. She had been struggling with some health issues but she always kept a positive attitude in front of others, Douglas said.
"She was very outgoing, funny, loving. She was a very family-oriented person, especially with all of the nieces and nephews. She has a really big family from her sisters and brothers."
Chevelle Clements said he last saw his sister four days ago when she came to visit him and his wife at their home in Elgin. Police showed up at his house at 6 a.m. Monday to inform him of the shooting.
"They said they were negotiating with her out there for an hour. Why wouldn't they call one of us to come out and help and calm her down, if that was the case?" he said. "Why is a 110-pound person dead when you have extensively trained officers who should be able to de-escalate this type of situation?"
The last time an Elgin police officer shot and killed someone was in 1999, Hilton said.
• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Charles Keeshan contributed to this report.