Robert Rialmo – Chicago Police Officer Dismissed after Killing Two Men
A Chicago police officer is fired after being acquitted of charges following a high-profile shooting in 2015, killing two individuals where one of which is a by-stander.
The Chicago Police Board arrived in a unanimous decision on October 17, 2019, voting 7-0, in favor of the dismissal of Officer Robert Rialmo of the Chicago Police Department. The ruling of the Board was based upon the shooting incident in 2015, where Robert Rialmo killed Quintonio LeGrier – the perpetrator, and Bettie Jones – a by-stander.
Officer Rialmo, with his partner Anthony LaPalermo, had reportedly answered several 911 domestic violence call in the early morning hours of December 26, 2015. The perpetrator had made three separate 911 calls, requesting “urgent police assistance claiming that someone was threatening his life. Shortly after, his father, Antonio LeGrier, also made a 911 call with claims that his son was trying to break down his bedroom door, and is armed with a baseball bat. Neither had provided additional information regarding the need for assistance.
The two police officers responded to the call dispatched to 4710 W. Erie in Chicago, Illinois. The apartment building is a two-story residence building, in which Jones occupied the first floor, and the LeGrier occupied the second floor. Both officers approached the apartment and rang the doorbell. The 55-year-old black woman, Bettie Jones, opened the door for the officers and referred them to the top floor, by which point the perpetrator could be heard opening the door from the second floor and came running down the stairs. Quintonio LeGrier, 19, was then said to have positioned himself between Robert Rialmo and Jones and began striking an aluminum baseball bat.
The Officers had backed away from Quintonio, but the perpetrator continued to move towards them, in a position ready to swing at their heads. Robert Rialmo almost got hit, but LaPalermo managed to warn him of the upcoming swing. Officer Rialmo then drew his service gun and fired eight shots towards Quintonio. The perpetrator sustained six bullets, and Jones, who was standing nearby, was unfortunately shot once in the chest. Both Quintonio and Jones died from the bullets.
The perpetrator apparently suffered from mental illness and had prior contact with law enforcement, which reflected in Quintonio’s demonstrated erratic behavior; however, this information was not provided in the 911 calls, in which the dispatchers and officers remained unaware of.
Initial assessment of prosecutors argued against Officer Rialmo, asserting the officer could have used an alternative method of force.
“Upon examination of the facts of this case, the Board finds that when Officer Rialmo fired his gun in the direction of Bettie Jones, he had the ability to safely reposition himself even farther than he already had from Mr. LeGrier. Had Robert Rialmo done so, he could have neutralized the threat posed by Quintonio LeGrier, and Bettie Jones would be alive today,” read Board President Ghian Foreman from the ruling.
A review of the case by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office concluded that there was no specific evidence to support charges against Robert Rialmo. As is said, no criminal charges were brought against Rialmo under the claim of self-defense, and just act within the boundaries and standards set forth by the Chicago Police Department; however, the defunct Independent Police Review Agency ruled the shooting unjustified and recommended for the dismissal of Officer Rialmo.
Eventually, settlement for the family of Bettie Jones, in regards to wrongful death, was contended on January 4, 2016, by Latarsha Jones. On September 5, 2018, a settlement with a total of $16 million had been declared. On the other hand, Judge Rena Marie Van Tine reversed the decision for a $1.05 million settlement for LeGrier’s family after judicial decision withdrawing charges against Rialmo.
After a long dispute over whether or not the case of Officer Rialmo shall be put forward, Chicago Police Board member Eva-Nina Delgado broke the tie and voted to advance Rialmo’s case. This decision made on April 19, 2018, was one that sided with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s (COPA) recommendation of terminating Robert Rialmo. The COPA asserted that investigators found no evidence to support the claim that Rialmo’s behavior during the incident was just.
On November 7, 2018, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson filed disciplinary charges against Officer Rialmo for Jones’ death. A year later, the Chicago Police Board reached a unanimous decision to dismiss Officer Rialmo, under the contention that the case was a matter of dispute as to what happened when Rialmo arrived in the scene.