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08/21- Britton family 649 words

by Leslie Jones McCloud


Alliance News
j The neighborhood where James Britton lived is lined with three flats,
cars and people, which is typical of many of the areas neighboring the
1000 block of North Ridgeway. On the porch of 1018 where Britton sta>
ed, a two of his nephews sat, along with a handful of quiet, teenaged
relatives. They didn't to have much to say about the death of their un
cle, except that he was their uncle and they were surprised that he wa
s dead.
"It was a weird way that he died," 13-year-old Elfego Baily said befor
e leaving the porch to go upstairs. Britton, 34, was an ironworker. H
e belonged to a crew of people working on a 55-story skyscraper downto
wn and was in excellent health, according to those who knew him.
Britton was found unresponsive in the back of a squad car Thursday nig
ht after police responded at about 5:30 p.m. to a silent alarm aboard
a CTA bus Britton allegedly tried to hijack. Britton wanted the bus to
keep straight on Western and not turn as it was supposed to on 16h St
: . reet, according to Patrick Camden, a police spokesman.
After the bus driver pulled the bus over, two men off the street help
ed to subdue Britton until police arrived. Britton resisted arrest and
ran two blocks jumping over cars, to 14th Street, where police on foo
-•"/". : V t and another citizen helped Marquette district officers catch him. He
was arrested for battery, according to police. Camden said Britton wa
i s found unresponsive when police arrived at the police district lock-u
p located at 26th Street and Damen Avenue. CPR was administered and an
ambulance called but Britton was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m. at St.
Anthony DePauda Hospital, where he was admitted as John Doe, according
to a hospital spokeswoman.
A detective familiar with the case said Britton struggled throughout t
he two-block chase but did not appear hurt. An autopsy was performed 1
ast Friday afternoon but a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Exami
ner said the cause of Britton's death is pending other tests. Camden s
aid any investigation into the events surrounding Britton's death is p
ending the medical examiner's report.
Juggling a cordless phone, her cane and a purse, Britton's mother, Leo
la walked slowly up the stairs to her apartment, where family and clos
e friends had already started to gather. She began Monday planning ano
ther one of her children's funerals. She said she fainted twice when s
, ". he was told that her son was dead and still wore the yellow hospital b
and around her wrist as she leaned on her cane and climbed the wooden
stairs. One of her daughters died of Cancer in April, leaving behind t
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wo children.
Leola said no one had told her about her son allegedly hijacking the b
us. She saw him last Wednesday when he stopped by her apartment. She w
as upset at the news that her son was being accused of an act of viole
nee and she dismissed the notion that her son could have died of natur
al causes.
"There was nothing wrong with my boy," she said. "I just left his job.
..no one there can believe it either," she said.
"My son didn't carry a wallet he didn't have a pen knife or a toothpi
ck...he only carried change. He wasn't a violent person. Anyone that y
ou would speak to would say the same," she said.
"My son didn't affiliate with a lot of people...but people who were th
ere have called already into the local television stations saying they
saw it-and they have a different story to say about what happened," s
he said.
A wake for Britton has been scheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Co
rban Colonial Funeral Home, 5345 W. Madison St.
A spokeswoman with the Cook County State's Attorney's office said last
Friday they "could not comment either way on the issue," when asked i
f circumstances surrounding the man's death are being investigated.
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