Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced late Friday that no criminal charges would be filed against police officer Robert Rialmo, who shot to death an emotionally disturbed teenager and a 55-year-old grandmother while responding to a domestic disturbance call on Chicago’s West Side the day after Christmas in 2015.
Rialmo has said the shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who allegedly was wielding a baseball bat, and his neighbor, Bettie Jones, was an act of self-defense. The State’s Attorney agreed, citing “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Rialmo did not act in self-defense…” An investigation into the shooting was conducted by the Independent Police Review Authority, the FBI, and the Illinois State Police.
The purpose of the review was solely to examine whether the conduct of Officer Rialmo was unlawful. The State’s Attorney’s review specifically does not address issues related to tactics, whether Officer Rialmo followed police procedures, whether he should be subject to discipline, his employment status, or the merits of any civil litigation.
LeGrier, an engineering student who was home from college for the holidays when the incident occurred, reportedly had a mental health crisis and was involved in a domestic dispute with his father. Both of them called 911 several times for assistance.
Jones, a churchgoing mother of five and grandmother of nine and who was battling cancer at the time of her death, responded to a call from LeGrier’s father asking that she open the door for police. She was struck and killed by a stray bullet after Rialmo fired several times at LeGrier.
Since the shooting, both LeGrier’s family and Jones’ family have filed wrongful death suits against Rialmo. Rialmo then countersued LeGrier’s estate, alleging the incident has caused him “extreme emotional trauma.”
In a statement following the announcement, Karen Sheley, Police Practices Project director at the ACLU of Illinois, said the shooting deaths demonstrate “the need for better training and oversight” within the Chicago Police Department.
Here’s more of her statement:
The shooting deaths of Mr. LeGrier and Ms. Jones show the need for better training and oversight when the Chicago Police Department responds to people in crisis. The recently-released U.S. Department of Justice report exposed the CPD’s broken crisis response system. In this case, for example, we know that the 911 dispatcher did not identify the call as one involving someone in crisis and did not dispatch an officer trained in crisis intervention. The officers who arrived on the scene did not use crisis intervention techniques and made tactical errors resulting in a shooting of Jones, who simply opened her door.
The DOJ report made clear that this is not an isolated incident, pointing out several continuing deficiencies in CPD’s crisis intervention program: it is understaffed; the CPD does not screen volunteers for the program; the CPD does not collect data on the number of CIT calls in order to appropriately staff districts with enough CIT officers; CPD does not evaluate crisis incidents or officers working on CIT calls.
Sheley also noted that as the State’s Attorney announcement was made, a Chicago Police officer shot and killed a woman with a knife who was having a mental health crisis, an emergency call that also “was not identified as one for the Crisis Intervention Team.”