Chicago officer involved in shooting teen sues his family for 'trauma'

CHICAGO -- A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black 19-year-old college student and accidentally killed a neighbour has filed a lawsuit against the teenager's estate, arguing the shooting left him traumatized.

See Full Article

The highly unusual suit was filed Friday in the middle of the city's effort to grapple with serious questions about the future of its police force. Those questions include the adequacy of its system for investigating police shootings and how to win back public trust after several cases of alleged misconduct. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging civil rights investigation, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised a major overhaul of the Police Department and steps to heal its fraught relationship with black residents.

The timing and unusual nature of the suit by officer Robert Rialmo, who is seeking $10 million in damages, could complicate the department's efforts to demonstrate more sensitivity toward the community in how police shootings are handled. His attorney, Joel Brodsky, said it was important in the charged atmosphere to send a message that police are "not targets for assaults" and "suffer damage like anybody else."

The teen's father, Antonio LeGrier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit days after the Dec. 26 shooting, saying his son, Quintonio, was not armed with a weapon and was not a threat. His attorney, Basileios Foutris, was incredulous at what he called the officer's "temerity" in suing the grieving family of the person he shot.

"That's a new low even for the Chicago Police Department," he said. "First you shoot them, then you sue them."

The lawsuit provides the officer's first public account of how he says the shooting happened, offering details that differ with the family's version. It says Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call with another officer, opened fire after Quintonio LeGrier swung a bat at the officer's head at close range. A downstairs neighbour, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, was standing nearby and was shot and killed by accident. She was not part of the domestic dispute.

"The fact that LeGrier's actions had forced Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier's life and to accidentally take the innocent life of Bettie Jones has caused, and will continue to cause, Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma," the filing says.

When arriving at the scene around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, Rialmo rang the doorbell of the two-story apartment building. Jones answered and directed them to the upstairs apartment. As Rialmo stepped through the doorway, he heard someone "charging down the stairway," the suit says.

It describes the teen coming down the stairs with a baseball bat in hand and says LeGrier "cocked" the bat "and took a full swing at Officer Rialmo's head, missing it by inches" when the two were around four feet (1.2 metres) apart.

The officer then backed away with his weapon still holstered, according to the suit, while repeatedly shouting at LeGrier to drop the bat.

But the suit says LeGrier kept advancing and swung the bat again. Only when LeGrier cocked the bat again from three or four feet away, did the officer pull out his 9 mm handgun and open fire, the filing says.

As he began firing, Rialmo did not see or hear Jones behind LeGrier, the suit says. It says one of the bullets went through LeGrier's body and struck Jones, killing her.

An autopsy determined that LeGrier suffered six bullet wounds.

Lawyers for Antonio LeGrier and for Jones have provided accounts that differ from Rialmo's. They say the evidence indicates the officer was 20 or 30 feet (six to nine meters) away when he fired, calling into question Rialmo's contention that he feared for his life.

Foutris also questions why the teen would attack the officer since he was the one who called police. The father of the Northern Illinois University student also made an emergency call to police.

"If you're calling multiple times for help are you going to charge a police officer and try to hit him with a bat? That's ridiculous," Foutris said.

County prosecutors have asked the FBI to investigate the shooting.

A Police Department spokesman refused to comment on the officer's lawsuit.

Such a lawsuit by an officer is extraordinarily unusual, said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and current defence attorney who is not connected to the case.

He questioned whether a judge would give it any merit and said it appeared intended to intimidate LeGrier's family. He said he had never heard of an officer blaming his shooting victim for causing trauma.

"That is a known part of the job," Turner said of policing's emotional toll.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • France heads to the polls after unpredictable presidential campaign

    World News CBC News
    France goes to the polls on Sunday for the first round of a bitterly fought presidential election, crucial to the future of Europe and a closely-watched test of voters' anger with the political establishment. Nearly 47 million voters will decide, under tight security, whether to back a pro-EU centrist newcomer, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative who wants to slash public spending, a far-left eurosceptic admirer of Fidel Castro or appoint France's first woman president, to shut borders and…
  • Conservative candidates need to step up to the front

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    News flash! There is a leadership race underway within the Conservative Party of Canada. What? Really? How long has this been going on? Forever it seems, not that many have noticed amid the drama of the ruling Liberals’ marijuana legislation, its pandering Islamophobia motion, its leader’s questionable Aga Khan vacation destination, its outright lie about changing the federal voting system before the next election, and the tabling of an omnibus bill that they supposedly would never do. Source
  • Supply ship named for John Glenn arrives at space station

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A supply ship bearing John Glenn’s name arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday. Astronauts used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule, as the craft flew 400 kilometres above Germany. Source
  • Bank of Canada governor 'happy' to see plan for GTA housing market

    Canada News CBC News
    Measures to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have received a warm response from Canada's central banker, who said Saturday it should have some effect on runaway housing prices. "I'm happy there are measures," Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, told reporters during financial meetings in Washington. Source
  • 'There's nothing we can do': Rigaud, Que. residents waiting out flood

    Canada News CTV News
    Firefighters and police officers made the rounds Saturday checking on people in Rigaud, Que. who decided to stay in their homes despite the recent flood. The small town, located west of Montreal near the Ontario border, declared a state of emergency Thursday after a combination of heavy rainfall and spring thaw flooded the region. Source
  • 'There's nothing we can do': Rigaud, Que. residents wait out flood

    Canada News CTV News
    Firefighters and police officers made the rounds Saturday checking on people in Rigaud, Que. who decided to stay in their homes despite the recent flood. The small town, located west of Montreal near the Ontario border, declared a state of emergency Thursday after a combination of heavy rainfall and spring thaw flooded the region. Source
  • Calgarian who joined ISIS added to U.S. most-wanted terrorist list

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Once thought killed while fighting alongside ISIS forces in Iraq, a Calgarian is now one of the United States' most-wanted terrorists. In a decision by the U.S. State Department, Farah Mohamed Shirdon, 24, of Calgary, has been dubbed a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Source
  • Edmonton police seek 2 'people of interest' in dead toddler case

    Canada News CBC News
    Edmonton police are asking for more help from the public in identifying two people of interest regarding a dead toddler who was found Friday in the north end of the city. Police released a photo Saturday afternoon of a man and a woman. Source
  • 2 arrested in Edmonton dead toddler case

    Canada News CBC News
    Edmonton police are asking for more help from the public in identifying two people of interest regarding a dead toddler who was found Friday in the north end of the city. Police released a photo Saturday afternoon of a man and a woman. Source
  • Vibrator thief told sex shop clerk she had HIV before lunging at him with needle

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A woman found guilty of two thefts and threatening with a needle will have her day of reckoning at the Sudbury Courthouse on May 2, whether she is physically in court or not. “There will be an order I'm not opposed to,” Shawana's lawyer, Denis Michel, told Ontario Court Justice Karen Lische Wednesday concerning his client Naomi Shawana, who has refused to attend court on numerous occasions in recent months for her sentencing involving two armed robberies in January, 2016. Source