Wielding a shiny chrome handgun before a federal jury Monday, a lawyer for three Chicago cops being sued over a March 2012 shooting left little to the imagination.
Bassil Abdelal may have become a robbery victim when thieves stormed his Austin beauty store four years ago, lawyer Marion Moore said. But when police arrived, Moore said, Abdelal walked out of his shop, pointed the large handgun squarely at the officers and refused to drop it.
“That’s what the officers saw,” Moore told the jurors. “And that’s what matters here.”
The three officers opened fire on Abdelal, who has now taken a lawsuit against the city and the officers to trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Brendan Gallagher, one of Abdelal’s lawyers, said Officers Miguel Torres, Rolando Ruiz and Thomas Petrenko used excessive force and concocted a false narrative to justify the shooting.
Abdelal’s lawsuit says he was “shot and seriously wounded with 11 bullets to his hands, shoulder, toes, legs and hips.” But his lawyers told the jury he was shot six times. Both sides made their comments Monday during opening statements in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, who said she expects the trial to last a few days.
Gallagher described to the jury how three masked men rushed into Abdelal’s B&B Beauty Supply at Lake and Laramie around 8:30 p.m. on March 14, 2012. The robbers held Abdelal and his father-in-law at gunpoint and demanded money from the cash register. But one got a call on his cellphone, Gallagher said, and that’s when two robbers fled.
The third robber tripped over Abdelal and dropped his gun a few feet outside the store, Gallagher said. Abdelal picked up the weapon for protection. Gallagher said that’s when Abdelal was shot repeatedly.
“Six bullets tear through his body,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said the officers have told differing stories since the shooting. But Moore walked jurors through the shooting from each officer’s point of view, step by step. She said the incident played out in less than a minute from the time the officers arrived to the time they fired their weapons. And she said Abdelal’s shooting was not a mistake, or a rush to judgment.
“The plaintiff was shot because he came out of the store pointing a gun and ignored orders to drop it,” Moore said.