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2015 shooting of NIU student by Chicago police ruled unjustified

ivilian oversight agency’s conclusion after 2-year investigation

CHICAGO – A police oversight office has ruled that the shooting of Northern Illinois University student Quintonio LeGrier on Dec. 26, 2015, was unjustified, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

The 19-year-old was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo while he was responding to 911 calls from LeGrier and from his father from their home on Chicago’s West Side. LeGrier had become agitated and Rialmo arrived to find
LeGrier holding an aluminum bat outside the apartment of his downstairs neighbor, Bettie Jones, 55.

Jones also was killed in the incident. Police said she was accidentally hit.

A report from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, dated Dec. 22, addressed six allegations made against Rialmo: that he shot LeGrier without justification, failed to provide either him or Jones with medical attention, fired multiple times into a home where there where people who could be injured or killed, fired in the direction of Jones that resulted in her death, and that Rialmo failed to maintain his Taser certification.

The COPA report would sustain four of the six allegations, exonerating Rialmo for two allegations that he did not provide medical assistance because he had neither the equipment nor the training to do so.

“In sum, a reasonable officer in Officer Rialmo’s position would not have believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm at any time that Officer Rialmo fired his weapon,” the report reads. The accountability office report determined that the shooting was not within policy.

In determining whether the shots fired were within department policy, the report noted that Rialmo gave differing statements about whether LeGrier swung the bat, and whether LeGrier swung the bat was not corroborated by the other officers at the scene. LeGrier’s father also denied that his son had a weapon or that he was a threat at the time of the shooting.

Rialmo’s statement that he was standing on the porch when he fired the shots also was not supported by the location of shell casings near the street, the report said, but they could have been moved after the shooting.

LeGrier was home on winter break from NIU at the time of his death. Court records showed he had been on probation at the time of the shooting, after a May 2015 incident where he punched a residence hall worker. He had had other run-ins with NIU police, but at the time of his death, acquaintances said he was trying to change. He’d joined the Black Male Initiative program on campus.

Top NIU administrators attended LeGrier’s funeral service in January 2016 at New Mount Pilgrim Church on Chicago’s West Side. A GoFundMe campaign raised $15,000 to pay for the funeral.

At the time, the shooting sparked outrage across Chicago. It was the first first fatal police shooting in Chicago after the release of the footage showing the shooting of LaQuan McDonald, which showed Chicago police shooting the teen 16 times that lead to marches and protests across the city. After LeGrier’s death, people again marched in the streets.

The report also comes two weeks after the city of Chicago, briefly, sued LeGrier’s estate, alleging he was responsible for Jones’ death. The lawsuit was withdrawn less than 24 hours after it was reported.

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