CHICAGO (CBS) — Jurors heard opening statements at the Daley Center Monday in a wrongful death case against the Chicago Police Department and Officer Robert Rialmo, in the shooting death of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier in 2015.
Rialmo shot and killed LeGrier while responding to a domestic disturbance call on the day after Christmas in 2015. He also accidentally shot and killed 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a neighbor who was standing behind LeGrier.
Rialmo claimed when he arrived to the scene, LeGrier charged at him with a baseball bat.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports it was an unusual start for a wrongful death lawsuit, as the man at the center of the case — Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo – was not present in the courtroom.
Rialmo’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, stated, “I don’t see why he has to be here, so that Jury can look at him and gauge his reactions or misgauge his reactions?”
Brodsky held up the bat in his opening statement Monday, saying distances seem a lot closer when someone is swinging a bat at you.
“I wanted to make the point to the jury that the distances they’re talking about are extremely close,” Brodsky said.
When a forensics expert was questioned about the trajectory of the nine bullets that were fired by Rialmo, Janet Cooksey, LeGrier’s mother, fled the courtroom in tears.
“It’s emotionally very difficult for her to listen to the details about her son’s demise,” Cooksey’s attorney Jim Montgomery stated. “But she’s determined she’s going to stick through this trial because this is important. It’s her son’s life and her opportunity to try and get justice.”
The family of Bettie Jones – the woman who was shot by Rialmo as she stood behind LeGrier – says her estate has reached a tentative $16 million settlement with the city.
While Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claims the shooting was warranted, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) ruled the shooting as unjustified.
The Chicago Police Board will decide whether Rialmo should be fired.
Rialmo is expected to be in court Tuesday to testify.