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Tiara Standage hopes to bring about change and get answers by organizing a protest Friday for Sonya Massey, who was fatally shot by a Sangamon County Sheriff’s deputy during a response to her residence in the 2800 block of Hoover Avenue early on the morning of July 6.

Standage said that like Massey, as a black woman she was treated “worse” than she believed police treated others.

“They are meant to protect and serve,” Standage said in an interview on July 10. “I don’t know what led to Sonya Massey’s death, and I would like to know.”

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The Illinois State Police, which is conducting an independent investigation into the case, said in a written statement Wednesday that it would not release the body-worn camera worn by the sheriff’s deputies or other information “at this time.”

The statement also said state police would release the video to Massey’s family “in due course” before releasing further information.

Speaking before the Sangamon County Board meeting on Tuesday, board member Gina Lathan said she hopes the community will not “rely and rely heavily on speculation, but will definitely rely on the facts and findings of the investigation.”

“A lot of speculation”

According to information provided by the district Saturday, officers were called to Massey’s home at 12:50 a.m. Saturday for a possible burglary. The news release said officers heard shots fired at around 1:21 a.m.

Massey was taken by ambulance to HSHS St. John’s Hospital, where she died at 1:47 a.m.

For Standage, the shooting was a heartbreaking incident.

“The public doesn’t yet know what happened,” she said. “It leads to a lot of speculation and a lot of questions. All we know is that a black woman called the police about a possible intruder in her home and ended up being killed in her own home.”

“I would like to know as much as her family and the whole community: Why? How did we go from calling the police for our protection to being murdered by the police? What happened in the meantime?”

One of Massey’s neighbors, Sheree Lewis, described Massey as a quiet woman who kept to herself. One of Lewis’ sons, she said, attended school with Massey’s daughter.

Lewis, who was outside reading that morning, said she heard a “bang” and then about 20 police cars drove into the neighborhood.

“I’m scared for myself and my children,” Lewis said of the shooting. “I feel like as a black woman, we are the least protected species.”

Standage said she could understand that.

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Standage remembers contacting police about her own domestic violence situation and being laughed in her face. The prosecutor, she said, would not press charges against the man until he ran Standage over in broad daylight in front of her neighbors.

“Based on my experience, I don’t like to involve the police because it always makes things worse,” Standage insisted.

‘Peaceful protest’

The protest outside the county building, Standage added, was not intended to divide the community, “but to strengthen them and give them security for what happens next.”

“This is a peaceful protest and I will be on the front lines letting people know that this is a peaceful protest. There has already been one act of violence against a woman in our community. We don’t want to increase the violence. We are trying to decrease it.”

District 2 Councilman Shawn Gregory said he did not want to view Friday’s protest as a “political issue,” but rather as something people can learn from.

“I really want us to strive to improve ourselves as much as possible so that situations like this don’t happen again in our community,” said Gregory, who went to school with Massey and knows some of her family members. “People want to see positive change come out of something that wasn’t right (although I’m not saying whether it was right or not).”

CContact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788; [email protected]; X, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.