On June 18, 2018, jurors will hear the opening statements in the wrongful death case against the Chicago Police Department and Officer Robert Rialmo.
The officer shot and killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier while responding to a domestic disturbance call, on Dec. 26, 2015. The officer also accidently shot 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a neighbor who was standing behind LeGrier.
It is possible the city has reached a settlement with the Jones family for $16 million, however, LeGrier’s family is pushing with a trial at the Daley Center Courthouse, which begins on June 18.
Rialmo shot LeGrier because he charged the officer with a baseball bat, according to Rialmo’s attorney.
The officer and his partner were responding to a domestic disturbance call in Austin. LeGrier was staying at the apartment with his father. Jones lived in the apartment below them and answered the door for the officers.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office decided not to charge Rialmo with the shooting and stated LeGrier came down the stairs, from the apartment, with a baseball bat. This caused the officers to retreat down the stairs.
While they were retreating, Rialmo fired eight shots. Six of them hit LeGrier and one of the shots hit Jones.
Joel Brodsky, the defense attorney, said that the officer feels horrible that he killed Jones, but said the officer fired his gun in fear for his life.
I think the main point with Rialmo is, it I put any other person in his situation, they would have had no choice except to do what he did; which was try to defend their life.
In court filings, Rialmo admitted he knew Jones was standing behind LeGrier when he fired his weapon. Brodsky stated that the shooting was justified. He also believes that Rialmo was not properly trained as a police officer.
What are you supposed to do when somebody’s got a bat over their head, they’re charging at you are 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning? They’re maybe four to six feet away from you, what are you supposed to do?
According to LeGrier’s family, the 19-year-old was further away from Rialmo when the officer started shooting. A witness said the officer was standing on the sidewalk outside the apartment and was several yards from the front door. LeGrier was still inside when the officer fired.
According to Janet Cooksey, LeGrier’s mother, the distance proves her son was not a threat to the officers. She asked how he could be a threat from the hallway, if the officers were outside on the sidewalk?
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) ruled the shooting unjustified. The agency questioned Rialmo’s account of the shooting. Evidence proves that he was further away from LeGrier when he opened fire. They said:
We find a reasonable officer in Officer Rialmo’s position would not have believed he was in imminent harm of death or great bodily harm at the time Officer Rialmo began firing his weapon.
The COPA has recommended that Rialmo be fired. However, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson countered the ruling, believing the shooting was justified. The Chicago Police Board is set to decide if Rialmo should be fired.
By Jeanette Smith
CBS Chicago: Trial To Begin In Lawsuit Over 2015 Fatal Police Shooting Of Quintonio Legrier
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