TLC's Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins Says Mentally Ill Cousin Was Shot Dead by Police

Watkins defends her cousin on Twitter after police shot him 18 times last Wednesday

Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins defends her cousin on Twitter after police shot him 18 times last Wednesday. Credit: Steve Mack/FilmMagic

TLC singer Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins is calling for justice for her mentally ill cousin, Eddie Russell Jr., who was shot and killed by Illinois police last Wednesday.

Watkins shared a series of tweets that she also screen grabbed and posted to her Instagram account Sunday, accusing the police of using "beyond excessive force" by shooting Russell Jr. 18 times as he stepped outside his home.

"My Cousin Was Shot 18 Times Including the Face and Back of His Head!" she captioned her post. "He Harmed NO ONE EVER! 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!"

My Cousin Was Shot 18 Times Including the Face and Back of His Head! He Harmed NO ONE EVER! 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??? IF THEIR GOING ON WHAT HES HOLDING AT THE BANK THAT ISN'T A GUN! (Picture Is Posted)They Keep saying he had a gun! I don't see a gun in his hand at the bank they say he tried to rob! That's NOT A GUN! They blocked everyone off including neighbors at a 4 block radius including his mother and father and family!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! First they reported he ran out shooting =LIES! Then one cop shot =LIES! Then 5-6 shots =LIES! Then 5-6 cops shot YEAH CLEARLY! But why SO MANY TIMES? Why THE AR15? They didn't even wait for the negotiator to arrive or is it that the negotiator took his time getting there? They haven't Even Gave my cousin the RESPECT of trying to call and explain WHAT HAPPENED IN DETAIL TO HER CHILD! He needs JUSTICE! His Mother and Father and Family need JUSTICE!!!! This wasn't a hostage situation! He didn't threaten anyone's life! This was a mentally iLL young man who needed help and should have received just that! PLEASE HELP HIS MOTHER AND SPREAD HER STORY SO SHE CAN GET THE HELP SHE NEEDS AND JUSTICE FOR HER SON!!!! His Mother Has Tried For Many Years To Get Her Son Mental Health Counseling He Needed! The system Failed Him and Her! #AmericaIsTainted #TrumpIsAChump #TakeAKnee #BendAKnee #JusticeForEddieJr #Shot18Times #tboz #tlc #tbeezy #tlcarmy #justice #peoriaillinois #EddieRussell

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A press release from the Peoria Police Department states that police followed Russell Jr. to a residential neighborhood after they identified him as a suspect in a bank robbery. After tracking him down at his home, officers attempted to communicate with Russell Jr. for over two hours before finally calling in a special response team, who asked his mother to help draw him out of the home.

"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!" Watkins wrote. "18 times? Shot eighteen times?? IF THEIR GOING ON WHAT HES HOLDING AT HTE BANK THAT ISN'T A GUN!"

In the police report, which was shared to Facebook, the police claimed that Russell Jr. was "armed" when he "emerged from his home advancing towards officers with a handgun."

"The handgun Russell was armed with during the shooting incident matches the description of the gun he used during the Bank Robbery at First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust," the statement reads. "The handgun was recovered at the scene of the shooting incident."

Russell Jr. was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime. He was 25.

According to the New York Daily News, he had just been released from a mental health facility shortly before he was killed, and his father had tried to ask police to let him inside to talk to his son, but he was told no.

"They could have tased him from 30 feet away," father Eddie Russell, Sr., told the Peoria Journal Star hours after the shooting. "But they grabbed him out of the house. I don't care what they say."

On Twitter, Watkins railed against the police and the changing narrative that was being spread in the news. "I've watched this story change so many times right before my eyes!" she tweeted. "Jr. Was a sweet harmless young man with mental issues he couldn't help."

The six police officers involved in the shooting are currently on critical incident leave.