The family of a Chicago, Illinois woman is looking for answers after she died in police custody.
Irene Chavez was arrested for simple battery over a fight at a local bar. Just a few hours after her arrest, officers had to deliver some horrifying news to her family. Two police officers went to the Chavez family home to notify them that Irene Chavez had been found hanged in her cell.
Now, a week later, her family is demanding answers from the police and being met with silence.
"I asked detectives questions, and I hit a red light, a stop sign, a door every single time." Chavez's sister, Iris Chavez, told reporters.
Irene and Iris Chavez's parents stood nearby outside the station. The mother, Cynthia Chavez, dropped to her knees and prayed on the wet pavement.
Iris Chavez said police gave her a heavily redacted report the morning her sister died. She said they told her that her sister had hanged herself with a shirt. Irene Chavez was at the Jeffery Pub on South Jeffery, where she was arrested for simple battery, her sister said.
But the sister said she knows almost nothing about the circumstances of the arrest, including what led to it.
According to ABC7, Irene Chavez, a U.S. military veteran, had been dealing with PTSD and had been getting treatment, her sister said. She'd been out of the military for about three years and was between jobs after recently moving back to Chicago from Texas, her sister said. She'd had a variety of jobs since leaving the military and hoped to work full time in community farming, friends said.
"What we know is, Irene died in the custody of the Chicago police. What we know is, Irene Chavez was a bright light in this community, serving our country ..., loved by her family and friends, loved by the LGBT community," said Andrew Stroth, a civil rights attorney working with the Chavez family.
Stroth called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown to help the Chavez family in their search for answers.
"We know there is video that exists," Stroth said. "We know Iris shouldn't get a redacted police report. The family wants answers. The family is demanding truth."
Unfortunately, as the past has shown us, these sorts of cases often go unsolved and questions unanswered. It is possible that Chavez took her own life but, we believe, her family deserves full disclosure of the report and videos that prove it.