CHICAGO (CBS)—It was a bizarre 15 minutes at the Daley Center Wednesday evening when a judge delivered an unexpected twist favoring cop Robert Rialmo by trumping a jury’s decision to give a million dollars to the family the man Rialmo shot and killed.
The ruling triggered the end of the wrongful death civil lawsuit involving the police shooting of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier.
Jurors delivered a verdict late Wednesday afternoon that didn’t sit well with Judge Rena Marie Van Tine.
In their decision, the jury concluded that Rialmo believed his life was in danger when he pulled the trigger that killed LeGrier as he came barreling toward police with a baseball bat in December 2015 as they responded to a domestic disturbance call at the west side home where he was staying with his father.
After delivering that decision, the jury awarded LeGrier’s family $1.05 million in damages.
Judge Van Tine saw the verdict as a contradiction, believing that the family wasn’t entitled to monetary damages because LeGrier’s threatening behavior provoked the shooting that took his life, along with neighbor Bettie Jones.
Jones lived on the first floor of the home where LeGrier was staying with his father Antonio LeGrier. She answered the door when police arrived in response to a domestic disturbance call placed by Antonio, and was accidentally shot as Rialmo fired his gun at Quintonio.
The verdict represented a small victory for some in the Chicago Police community who believe police-related shootings have been overly-scrutinized by the judicial system in recent years.
At the Daley Center after the verdict was read, LeGrier’s family expressed shock.
“One minute the verdict was for Quintonio getting justice—the next minute, not,” said his mother Janet Cooksey.
Cooksey took the stand at the trial last week, recounting how she drove LeGrier to his father’s house on Christmas morning after he “broke and unspecified household rule,” she said.
As they parted, Cooksey testified her son told her, “You’ll remember this day.”
He was dead less than 24 hours later.
CBS 2’s legal analyst Irv Miller spoke to CBS 2’s Jim Williams about the verdict.
“It seems like the jury wanted it both ways,” Williams said.
“They did,” Miller said. “(The verdict said) ‘we don’t think the officer is a bad guy—we think what he did was reasonable, but we think the family should get some money.’”
Standing outside the west side home where LeGrier took his final breath less than three years ago, pastor Ira Acree expressed disappointment with the judge’s ruling.
“I feel really bad today,” Acree said. “We have two people dead and we have a police officer who feels to some degree vindicated because of the irresponsible decision that the judge made yesterday.”
Cooksey said she’ll continue fighting for her son, and attorneys for the family say they’re considering their options.