A Chicago police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old black man is planning to sue the victim's family partly due to the "emotional distress" that the case is putting him through.
Before he was shot by officer Robert Rialmo last month, Quintonio LeGrier called 911 three times, asking police to come to his father's home, according to emergency calls released earlier this week. LeGrier claimed his life was being threatened, but the dispatcher did not send police to the scene until the third call, instead hanging up on him.
When police arrived, LeGrier walked out of his home with a baseball bat, according to police accounts. Officer Rialmo shot him six times, killing him. Two of the shots entered through LeGrier's backside, an autopsy showed.
Rialmo also accidentally shot neighbor Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five, once in the chest, killing her too. The bullet pierced her heart.
In the 911 calls, LeGrier said his life was in danger but declined to give details. His father also called 911, citing similar concerns, after LeGrier's third call. “My son’s attempting to break inside my bedroom door,” he said. “He’s got a baseball bat in his hand.”
Police believe there was a dispute between the two.
Two wrongful death lawsuits have already been filed against the city, citing officer misconduct. Officer Rialmo has been put on desk duty.
On Thursday, Joel Brodsky, the attorney for officer Rialmo, told Fusion that he plans to file a counter lawsuit against LeGrier's estate, citing emotional distress and assault. The officer claims LeGrier assaulted him prior to firing his gun.
"This guy came after my client with a baseball bat trying to kill him," attorney Brodsky told Fusion. "As a result of that, an innocent person was killed, and my client is very broken up about that."
"If LeGrier would have lived he would have probably been charged with felony murder for Ms. Jones' death," Brodsky added.
The judge has already given Brodsky the thumbs up that he can file a counter-claim anytime before February 24, he said. While he expressed doubts that LeGrier will win any money from the city, he hopes that the officer might be able to claim any funds the LeGrier family gets from insurance, or by any other means.
"All that still has to be figured out in court, but that's our thinking right now," he said.
The 911 call-taker is being disciplined for not immediately dispatching officers when a caller claimed that his life was in danger, an Office of Emergency Management spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday.
"Per the collective bargaining agreement, the call taker will remain in service until the discipline process is complete,” OEMC spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said.
“Frankly it’s outrageous and offensive behavior by the dispatchers,” attorney Basileios Foutris, who represents LeGrier’s father, told NBC Chicago. “It’s not something that’s appropriate.”
“Every single employee of the City of Chicago Quintonio encountered reacted improperly,” said Foutris.
This story has been updated with comments from Officer Rialmo's attorney.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.