By Crusader Staff Report
An interracial and ecumenical group of clergy and activists on Tuesday, June 23, delivered a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot at City Hall. The group requested that the mayor publicly state that fired Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo is banned from all city employment opportunities.
Rialmo in 2015 killed Bettie Jones, 55, and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier at an apartment on the West Side. He was not charged with any wrongdoing. Last November, Rialmo filed a lawsuit to get his job back with the Chicago Police Department.
Pastor Ira Acree, of the Leaders Network and the Greater St. John Bible Church, said more than 30 faith leaders and activists signed the letter, a copy of which was emailed to the Chicago Crusader.
“The City can advance its expressed commitment to police accountability and justice by not giving former police officer Robert Rialmo a pass on his reckless killing of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. Don’t award him the honor of representing our great city again,” said Pastor Cy Fields of the New Landmark Baptist Church and co-chair of the Leaders Network.
“The slaying of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier was completely unjustified. The aggressor should have received a far greater consequence than simply losing his job four years later. The city of Chicago should have tried Officer Rialmo for murder after the needless slaying of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. Instead he stayed on the force for four years before being fired,” added Rev. Alan Taylor, a board member of the Leaders Network and Pastor of Unity Temple Church of Oak Park.
On December 26, 2015, LeGrier’s father called police after he had barricaded himself in his unit as his 19-year-old son tried to enter it with an aluminum baseball bat. His son, who was a student at Northern Illinois University, was experiencing a mental health episode at the time. LeGrier’s father asked Jones, 55, his neighbor to open the door for the officers when they arrived. When the officers entered the building, LeGrier rushed downstairs with the bat as Jones walked upstairs. Both were shot dead.
No criminal charges were brought against Rialmo. The defunct Independent Police Review Agency ruled the shooting unjustified and recommended termination, but former Superintendent Eddie Johnson disagreed, saying Rialmo feared for his life.
Both families sued Rialmo and the city. Jones’ estate was given a $16 million settlement. In 2018, a Cook County jury initially awarded LeGrier’s father just over $1 million, but the award was taken away when jurors told him that the shooting was justified.
“We must not forget that our city is an epicenter of police abuse in Black communities. Our demand to ban Rialmo from city employment gives Mayor Lightfoot an opportunity to send a strong signal of a new day in Chicago,” says Rev. Marshall Hatch who eulogized both Jones and LeGrier at his West Side church, New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church.
“Banning Rialmo from all city employment would send a very strong message to the African American community that this mayor will not tolerate police violence on her watch, and that Black lives will truly matter with her administration,” stated Pastor Acree.
This letter is sent to request that you would publicly state that fired former police officer ROBERT RIALMO, the killer of BETTIE JONES and QUINTONIO LEGRIER is BANNED FROM ANY CITY EMPLOYMENT. While awaiting the results of Chicago Police Department investigations into his conduct, Rialmo was charged with participating in two bar fights with civilians, further tarnishing the image and reputation of his profession.
In the letter to Lightfoot, faith leaders said, “We cannot fight for justice and radical police reform in Minneapolis without fighting for the same in Chicago, a city we love but a city that also has been an epicenter of police abuse against citizens of color. Our request is that you send another strong signal. We strongly urge that you respond to this letter by publicly stating that ROBERT RIALMO BE BANNED FROM ANY CITY EMPLOYMENT.”
In response to the letter from the clergy, the mayor’s office emailed the Crusader a video of press conference on June 2, where she told a reporter “Officer Rialmo is a coward. He has no place among the honorable men and women who wear the badge at the Chicago Police Department.”
Last November, Dante Servin, the Chicago police officer who killed Rekia Boyd in 2012, requested to have his record expunged after he was acquitted of second-degree murder. But Judge Martin noted in his ruling that a “not guilty” verdict did not always mean that a defendant was innocent.
Servin in 2015 was acquitted of second-degree murder for fatally shooting Boyd as she stood with a group of friends in an alley near Servin’s home in Douglas Park on March 21, 2012. In 2016, Servin resigned from the Chicago Police Department “under extreme duress,” on the eve of a Chicago Police Board meeting where he was expected to be fired.
The move allowed Servin, 51 to keep his pension, which reportedly has paid him $4,700 a month since September 2018.