By Keith Chambers, Chicago Crusader
The family of Quintonio LeGrier and activists packed a courtroom at the Daley Center this week, where they watched the trial of Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo who is at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit after he shot the 19-year-old on the West Side in 2015.
Basileios Foutris, a lawyer for LeGrier’s family grilled Rialmo during two days of questioning in the high profile trial that took place the same week the city proposed a $16 million settlement to the family of Bettie Jones. She and LeGrier were shot and killed by Rialmo on December 26, 2015 in an apartment on the city’s West Side. Jones, an innocent bystander, was shot once as Rialmo fired eight shots, with six of them hitting LeGrier.
Rialmo said LeGrier had a bat and threatened his life, but the family and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability disagreed. The dispute remains at the heart of the case. Rialmo countersued, claiming LeGrier was responsible for the shooting and that the city had poorly trained him to handle the incident.
Rialmo, clean-shaven, and wearing a light purple shirt, testified Tuesday, June 18 for the first time.
“You think you’re entitled to money for killing Antonio’s kid?” Foutris asked.
In a low voice, Rialmo often responded to questions with “yes” and no answers. Foutris picked up the aluminum bat LeGrier allegedly had the night of the shooting. Rialmo was asked if the distance between the officer and the person with a weapon helped determine whether a shooting is justified. Rialmo said a shooting is less justified the farther away a person with a weapon stands.
There was also a question of whether Rialmo contradicted himself in his early accounts of the shooting. At the trial Rialmo admitted that he did not mention LeGrier swinging the bat at him when he filled out his initial departmental reports. He testified that he was “advised not to.”
During the proceedings on Tuesday forensic pathologist Judy Melinek testified for LeGrier’s family.
In her testimony, Melinek said the trajectories of the wounds to LeGrier’s body did not support former Officer Robert Rialmo’s version of the shooting.
Rialmo claims LeGrier had his arms up, with an aluminum bat in his hands. Melinek pointed to an entrance wound to the left elbow, which exited near the armpit, which indicated LeGrier’s arm was down. She said there was no way LeGrier had been swinging the bat or charging at the officers when he was shot. The bullet wound locations, she said, were inconsistent with Rialmo’s version of what happened.
On Wednesday, June 20, Rialmo testified that he was injured after the shooting, contradicting what he previously said during his deposition where he said he was uninjured.
As Foutris questioned Rialmo, Brian Gainer, an attorney for the city, objected to the line of questioning, calling it “completely misleading.”
The verdict is expected to be announced this week.