Trials & Litigation

Sued over fatal shooting, Chicago cop files $10M emotional distress counterclaim

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A lawsuit filed by the father of a slain 19-year-old college student said the young man posed no threat to the Chicago police officer who fatally shot him in December.

But in a counterclaim filed Friday, the officer gave a very different account of what happened and sought $10 million in damages from the estate of Quintonio LeGrier.

The Chicago Tribune (reg. req.), Courthouse News and the New York Times (reg. req.) have stories about the unusual counterclaim by officer Robert Rialmo, who is seeking damages for his emotional distress over the shootings.

A Chicago Sun-Times (sub. req.) story published in December gives more information abut the initial lawsuit filed by LeGrier’s father.

The family of Bettie Jones, a neighbor who was accidentally killed by a bullet from Rialmo’s gun that may have passed through LeGrier, has also sued over her death.

Rialmo’s counterclaim says Jones let him in the front door of the two-flat to which he was responding, then headed back toward her apartment. At that point LeGrier allegedly came “barging” from the front door of the upstairs apartment, with a baseball bat in his right hand.

As Rialmo stood at the front door, LeGrier came downstairs to the first floor and took a full swing at Rialmo with the bat, the suit says. Although he missed the officer’s head, Rialmo said in the lawsuit he could feel the breeze from the bat as it went by him.

Shouting repeatedly to LeGrier to drop the bat, Rialmo backed outside onto the front porch. As LeGrier took another swing, the officer backed down the stairs leading to the porch, still with his gun holstered, the suit says.

With Rialmo now standing outside near the bottom of the front steps, LeGrier allegedly stood “with the baseball bat cocked back over his right shoulder with a two-handed grip, approximately three feet above officer Rialmo and approximately three to four feet from where officer Rialmo was standing on the bottom step of the front porch to the building. Officer Rialmo feared that LeGrier would strike him in the head with the baseball bat so hard that it would kill him,” the counterclaim continues.

At that point, fearing for his life, Rialmo fired eight rounds in less than three seconds, according to the lawsuit.

The autopsy report said that LeGrier was hit both in the chest and in the back, according to the Tribune.

“The fact that LeGrier’s actions … 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,” the counterclaim says.

However, Antonio LeGrier said in the initial lawsuit that his son was inside the building, posing no immediate threat, and Rialmo was outside when the shooting took place.

Attorney Basileios Foutris, who represents the father, expressed disbelief that Rialmo would file such an “outlandish” counterclaim

“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,” Foutris told the Tribune.

Attorney Joel Brodsky represents Rialmo. He told the newspaper there has been a rush to judgment without hearing the officer’s side of the story.

“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, referring to a $5 million settlement over the shooting of Laquan McDonald. It was made by the city of Chicago before any lawsuit was filed.

Related coverage:

CNN: “911 dispatcher may be disciplined in teen’s fatal Chicago police shooting”

Chicago Tribune (reg. req.): “Autopsies: Quintonio LeGrier shot 6 times by Chicago cop, Bettie Jones once”

WLS: “Aldermen urge city to settle Bettie Jones shooting lawsuit”

See also: “Chicago police officer indicted for murder one for shooting teen ‘without lawful justification’”

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