CPD goof-up allows cop on desk duty for shootings to make arrests

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Janet Cooksey speaks to the press about the death of her son Quintonio LeGrier before the start of a vigil on December 27, 2015 in Chicago. (File Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Chicago Police officer who shot and killed two people the day after Christmas last year was supposed to be working on desk duty, but was mistakenly assigned to a unit that patrolled parks and the lakefront over the summer — and he even made an arrest for domestic battery, officials said Thursday.

Officer Robert Rialmo fatally shot Quintonio LeGrier on Dec. 26 after responding to a call that the 19-year-old man was involved in a domestic dispute with his father in the 4700 block of West Erie. Rialmo also mistakenly shot one of LeGrier’s neighbors, Bettie Jones, 55.

The Independent Police Review Authority is continuing to investigate the deaths. Rialmo was placed on desk duty in the Jefferson Park District. But in July, he was mistakenly selected to work on a “summer mobile unit” that patrolled parks and the lakefront, said Anthony Guglielmi, the chief spokesman for the department.

Rialmo’s selection was based on reverse seniority, Guglielmi said. Rialmo’s been on the job since 2012 and was detailed to the citywide summer unit because of his relatively low seniority.

He was returned to desk duty on Oct. 31 when the mistake was discovered. Authorities in the Bureau of Patrol realized he’d participated in 10 arrests, including two directly attributed to him, while he was supposed to be doing administrative tasks.

Rialmo’s arrests included a warrant he issued on July 7 and a domestic battery arrest on July 31. He assisted in eight other arrests, including a gun possession case, records show. No complaints were filed against Rialmo while he was on the street.

“The department takes this error very seriously,” Guglielmi said. “It was careless and irresponsible.”

The mix-up — first reported by the Chicago Tribune — has prompted the department to change its procedures. Internal Affairs officials will now be required to approve every move of an officer from one unit to another to make sure they’re eligible to be on the street, Guglielmi said.

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