A Chicago police officer filed Friday a $10 million lawsuit against the family of a man he fatally shot in late 2015. Robert Rialmo claimed in the suit the incident caused him “extreme emotional trauma.”
The unusual case began the evening of Dec. 26, when Quintonio LeGrier called 911 three times, begging dispatchers to send police to his home.
Although details of the evening are “murky,” one thing is certain, according to the Chicago Tribune: Rialmo, a 27-year-old white police officer, was dispatched to the home of LeGrier, a 19-year-old black man. After Rialmo’s arrival at the scene, he fired six rounds at LeGrier, who was fatally wounded, as was his neighbor, Bettie Jones.
LeGrier’s father, Antonio LeGrier, subsequently filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Rialmo and the city of Chicago. Now, in what one local attorney has described as an “outlandish” twist in the case, the police officer has filed a countersuit against LeGrier’s estate, “arguing the shooting was forced by the teen’s actions and caused the officer ‘extreme emotional trauma.’”
According to Rialmo’s countersuit, LeGrier swung a baseball bat at the officer’s head, twice, at close range. The third time LeGrier picked up the the bat to swing, Rialmo opened fire on the man, the officer said in his suit.
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“Lately, it seems people have had a tendency to treat confrontations with police officers like a lottery ticket they can cash in,” Joel Brodsky, Rialmo’s lawyer, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “In this case, a lawsuit against my client was filed before a funeral was held.”
Brodsky added: “Antonio LeGrier should be held accountable for his actions. He assaulted my client before a shot was fired, which caused the death of an innocent mother of five children ... My client feels horrible Bettie Jones is dead because of the actions he was forced to take.”
Basileios Foutris, Antonio LeGrier’s attorney, said he was “incredulous” at the filing the suit. “After this coward shot a teenager in the back ... he has the temerity to sue him?” Foutris told the Chicago Tribune. That’s a new low for the Chicago Police Department.”
Rialmo has not publicly commented about the shooting. In March 2013, however, he happened to speak to the Chicago Tribune at his graduation ceremony at the police academy. “I really don’t know what to expect,” the officer, then 23, told a reporter. “I’m really anxious, I’m nervous, I’m excited, all of the above.”
Rialmo added: “I feel like I was given the opportunity to grow up in a nice neighborhood, you know, have a good family, have a good background ... If I can do that for some other people, that’s what I should be doing.”