Leondra Head | Local & World Editor
The Chicago police officer who killed black unarmed college engineering student, Quintonio Legrier, filed a lawsuit against LeGrier’s family asking for $10 million for suffering extreme emotional distress.
LeGrier died from multiple gunshot wounds in the December 26 shooting. The neighbor of LeGrier, Bettie Jones was also killed. Chicago police described Jones as a victim who was accidentally struck and tragically killed.
The claim filed on Friday, February 5 by Officer Robert Raimo, alleges the 19-year-old assaulted him with a baseball bat and caused him to suffer trauma. The officer is seeking more than $10 million for “extreme emotional distress” from the LeGrier family. This lawsuit provides the public with Railmo’s first explanation of what occurred.
The officer’s lawsuit says that LeGrier’s death was LeGrier’s fault and not his fault. The lawsuit states, “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.”
In a statement on Facebook, Rialmo’s attorney Joel Brodsky said, “Rialmo is taken aback by the speed in which the family of Mr. LeGrier rushed to file a lawsuit. He wants to make the point that having a relative killed in an officer-involved shooting is not the same as winning the lottery.”
Brodsky admits to People Magazine that it is rare for police officers to sue the families of people they have killed in the line of duty, but defends his client’s right to claim damages.
The lawsuit provides the officer’s moment-by-moment explanation of the incident, stating that the teen swung a baseball bat at him twice, barely missing both times. Court documents say, “The officer had his gun holstered and backed up as he shouted orders for LeGrier to drop the bat. It was only after LeGrier continued to approach and ignored the officer’s commands that Rialmo opened fire.”
LeGrier’s father and his family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the shooting. Basileios Foutris, an attorney for the LeGrier estate called the lawsuit “nonsense” and said Officer Rialmo’s account of what had happened was “pure fantasy” in a statement released to the public on Monday, February 8.
“It’s a new low for the Chicago Police Department,” Foutris said. “First you shoot them, then sue them. It’s outrageous. I can’t believe that this police officer has the temerity to turn around and sue the estate of the person he killed.”
Freshman, political science major, Joanna Smith from Baltimore said, “It is a growing epidemic that black males are getting killed by white police officers. LeGrier’s death is a tragedy for his family and Chicago’s Southside community. It is a shame that the officer is suing the family’s estate while the family is still grieving. ”
The shooting further strained relations between the Chicago Police Department and African-American residents as the Justice Department is reviews Chicago police practices.
The shooting came as Chicago officials were in hot water for what critics have called a popular culture of “shoot first and ask questions later.”