BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
The cousin of TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins was shot to death by police in Peoria, Ill., last week and the singer is seeking justice.
According to her numerous Twitter posts and an explanation on Instagram, Watkins says her cousin, Eddie Russell Jr., 25, was shot 18 times by police as he emerged from his home.
A press release on the police department’s Facebook page describes Russell Jr. as an “armed suspect” who was shot “as he emerged from his home advancing towards officers with a handgun.” The release verifies that Russell “was struck 17-20 times.”
Police were responding to a bank robbery earlier in the day on Sept. 20. Russell Jr. was identified on the bank surveillance video as the suspect. Police located him at home and shot him as he exited his home.
Russell Jr. died at the scene. Police said the handgun he was carrying matched the one used in the bank robbery.
Watkins described her cousin as mentally ill and wrote on Instagram that the police used his mother to lure Russell Jr. to leave the house, promising “we will give him the help he needs,” and when he walked out, they opened fire. Watkins also said in her post that the video surveillance tape from the bank doesn’t show her cousin holding a gun.