A lawsuit filed by a Chicago Police Department officer involved in the shooting of a mentally ill Black man and his neighbor is not going to improve the CPD’s already battered image.
According to CNN, CPD officer Robert Rialmo has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the estate of Quintonio LeGrier. Rialmo was one of the officers who responded to a call from LeGrier’s father to to assist his son, who was having a mental health crisis. The CPD ended up killing LeGrier and also accidentally shooting neighbor Bettie Jones.
LeGrier’s estate filed a lawsuit against the city. Bill Foutris, an attorney representing LeGrier’s estate and his father, Antonio LeGrier, said swift legal action was needed to preserve evidence.
“As a result of filing the lawsuit quickly we have gotten well over 40 DVDs of evidence, including police cams and police reports — all things we would not have had if the suit was not filed when it was,” he said. “It would have taken six months to get some of that evidence.”
Rialmo’s counterclaim charges Quintonio LeGrier with threatening his life, by swinging a baseball bat at him, and also causing him trauma. The lawsuit also blames LeGrier for causing his own death and for the death of Jones.
“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,” the lawsuit says.
Foutris said Rialmo’s lawsuit was an attempt at diverting attention from the fact that he murdered Quintonio LeGrier.
“This counterclaim is an attempt to deflect from what the officer did,” Foutris said. “He shot a teen four times in the back.”
LeGrier is one of several Black men with mental health problems who have been killed by the police after their families called for help. According to The Washington Post, about a quarter of people killed by police in 2015 suffered from mental illness.
The shootings of LeGrier and Jones were the latest in a string of scandals engulfing the CPD, who are accused of having a “shoot first ask questions later” attitude.
At the time of the shooting, which happened in December, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said police officers needed better training in how to handle people suffering from mental issues.
“There are serious questions about yesterday’s shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation,” Emanuel said. “While their investigation is underway, we must also make real changes within our police department today and it is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental health crises.”
Emanuel is facing calls for his resignation over his mishandling of the Laquan McDonald shooting. Officer Jason Van Dyke is facing murder charges for shooting McDonald 16 times as he was walking away.