Foxx says no for special prosecutor

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Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier

Crusader Staff Report

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is rejecting calls from Black political and religious leaders who are pushing for her to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case involving Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo, who fatally shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and 55-year old Bettie Jones two years ago.

The case threatens to sow a rift between Black leaders and Foxx, a product from the Cabrini Green housing project, who was elected in 2016 after running a campaign as a reformer who would change a system that took over a year to charge a police officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

In the LeGrier case, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) ruled the shooting unjustified. The ruling came after the city’s legal department withdrew plans to sue LeGrier’s estate, claiming the teenager caused the chain of events that led to his and Jones’ death. After the city backed down, Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized to the father of LeGrier and in a press conference called the city’s plans to sue “callous.”

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has 90 days to decide whether to discipline Rialmo, who remains on the payroll making $84,054 a year. Rialmo is currently under investigation for allegedly hitting two men in the face at a bar in Edison Park in the early morning hours on Dec. 17, 2017.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, Rev. Ira Acree, Rev. Marshall Hatch and other Black leaders are urging Johnson to fire Rialmo. A letter from COPA urged Johnson to fire Rialmo “for his unjustified use of deadly force.”

Black leaders are also calling on Foxx to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case, but in a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Foxx quickly rejected their demands, saying that her office had already reviewed the evidence last February and “concluded there was insufficient evidence for criminal charges.”

The Crusader emailed the Cook County State’s Attorney for this story, but no response was given as of press time Wednesday. Foxx’s office called the Crusader office later in the week and emailed a statement that confirmed the Tribune’s story.

LeGrier and Jones were killed Dec. 26, 2016. Officer Rialmo arrived at an apartment on the West Side after police received several 911 calls. Jones, an innocent bystander who lived on the first floor opened the door to the apartment to let Rialmo inside. LeGrier, who had a mental condition, came downstairs carrying a baseball bat, according to Foxx’s office.  Prosecutors say as Rialmo backed down the stairs, he fired eight times. LeGrier was hit six times, prosecutors say. Jones, who stood behind LeGrier, was shot once in the chest. Both died.

Initial reports said Jones’ death was a “mistake.” In court Rialmo said he knew Jones was close by when he fired his gun. Rialmo’s attorney maintains his client was justified in firing in self-defense.

Investigators determined that evidence indicates that LeGrier did not swing the bat at Rialmo, as the officer had claimed in police reports. COPA said Rialmo did not make the claim in the initial police report, but on a second report.

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