Chicago, IL -- A Chicago Police Officer who responded to a call for assistance by killing an unarmed 19-year-old college student and a neighbor, who was uninvolved in the situation, has now filed a lawsuit against the estate of the student HE killed — saying the shooting left him traumatized.
Officer Robert Rialmo is inexplicably seeking $10 million in damages from the estate of Quintonio LeGrier — apparently because killing someone is so traumatic, he must also sue for what he did.
According to the Associated Press, Rialmo’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, “said it was important in the charged atmosphere [in Chicago] to send a message that police are not ‘targets for assaults’ and [they] ‘suffer damage like anyone else.’”
Attorney Basileios Foutris is representing Antonio LeGrier in the wrongful death suit he filed days after Quintonio’s death and said he was astonished at the “temerity” Rialmo has displayed in suing the still-grieving family of the man he shot.
“That’s a new low, even for the Chicago Police Department,” he said. “First you shoot them then you sue them.”
Chicago Police have come under intense scrutiny for a number of questionable uses of force, among other issues, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice is currently conducting a thorough investigation into possible civil rights violations.
Quintonio LeGrier was killed on December 26, after his father summoned police for what he thought would be help handling the distraught teen. Instead of giving aid, Rialmo shot LeGrier — six times — as well as neighbor, Bettie Jones, who had simply been watching for police to direct them to the appropriate apartment. Though a statement from police wasn’t forthcoming at the time of the incident, they did say LeGrier was “combative” and carrying a baseball bat.
Rialmo’s lawsuit offers the first account he’s given of the shooting — which, not surprisingly, differs from the family’s description, as well as the vague information given by police at the time. According to the AP, the suit claims Quintonio swung the baseball bat at the officer’s head at close range. The lawsuit states:
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“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.”
While Rialmo claims LeGrier was “3 or 4 feet away” from him and was advancing aggressively with the bat, descriptions from LeGrier’s and Jones’ families say the officer was 20 or 30 feet away when he fired his weapon — and therefore could not possibly have feared for his life.
Additionally, Quintonio placed the original call to 911. As Foutris stated,
“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.”
An FBI investigation of the shooting has been requested.
Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who is not involved with this case, told the AP such a lawsuit is highly unusual, 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.”
It’s also questionable whether the courts will even hear Rialto’s suit.
The AP said a spokesperson for the police department declined to comment about the lawsuit.
Maybe if Officer Rialmo hadn’t shot and killed an unarmed teenage college student and ‘accidentally’ shot a neighbor in the neck, but had instead used de-escalation techniques and any number of less-than-lethal options, like backing up, perhaps he wouldn’t be ‘suffering’ so horribly — and these families would not have lost their loved ones.
Besides, as Turner said of the emotional toll policing often causes, “That’s a known part of the job.”