White cop who shot dead black teenager files $10M lawsuit

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

Chicago officer Robert Rialmo is seeking $10 million in damages because he says the shooting of honor engineering student Quintonio LeGrier left him distressed.

LeGrier’s family attorney, Basileios Foutris had some harsh words for the officer after learning of the lawsuit.

‘After this coward shot a teenager in the back … he has the temerity to sue him?

‘That’s a new low for the Chicago Police Department,’ Mr Foutris told the Chicago Tribune.

Rialmo’s 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.’

Brodsky said that relatives of those fatally shot by the police, such as the LeGrier family, are looking for ways to get paid after the city settled the Laquan McDonald shooting case last year for $5 million.

‘Ever since the McDonald payoff, people are treating officer-involved confrontations like a lottery ticket and they’re waiting to cash it in,’ Brodsky said.

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 swung a bat at the officer’s head at close range.

A downstairs neighbor, 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 Quintonio’s actions had forced officer Rialmo to end Quintonio’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 4.30am on December 26, 2015, 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 4 feet 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 Quintonio kept advancing and swung the bat again.

Only when Quintonio cocked the bat again from 3 or 4 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 Quintonio, the suit says. It says one of the bullets went through Quintonio’s body and struck Jones, killing her.

LaTarsha Jones, center, daughter of Bettie Jones, is comforted by family  during a press conference

An autopsy determined that Quintoniosuffered six bullet wounds.

The highly unusual suit was filed Friday as the city tries 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 Rialmo complicates the department’s efforts to demonstrate sensitivity toward the community in how police shootings are handled.

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.’

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 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 911.

The father of the Northern Illinois University student also made a 911 call.

‘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 defense 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 Quintonio’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.

Source: The DailyMail

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