Pastor, daughters of slain woman, renew calls to charge cop who pulled trigger

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Latisha Jones (left), and her twin sister Latonya Jones, both 21, sobbed Sunday while recalling their slain mother, Bettie Jones. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The twin daughters of Bettie Jones, 55, an innocent bystander killed in a police shooting that investigators concluded was “not justified,” joined their pastor Sunday to renew calls for the prosecution of the officer who pulled the trigger.

“He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Rev. Marshall Hatch said during a news conference at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

“For her life just to get taken away, it’s just wrong,” said Latisha Jones, 21, who cried into the shoulder of her twin, Latonya.

In February, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office announced it would not charge Officer Robert Rialmo in the deaths ofJones and Quintonio LeGrier, 19.

Hatch said Foxx should re-examine the case in light of a report released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which stated investigators found “no evidence” to support Rialmo’s assertions that any of the shots he fired at LeGrier were necessary.

Bettie Jones. | Family photo

Bettie Jones. | Family photo

Provided photo

COPA investigators said their findings weren’t “in conflict” with the prosecutors’ choice not to charge Rialmo because the oversight agency rules on “the preponderance of evidence,” as opposed to the higher standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” to obtain a criminal conviction.

A spokeswoman for Foxx didn’t return messages seeking comment Sunday.

The shooting occurred Dec. 26, 2015, when police were called to the home of LeGrier’s father, who claims his son was agitated and having a mental episode in his upstairs apartment at 4710 W. Erie.

Jones, who lived downstairs, simply answered the door when police arrived. Rialmo said he opened fire when Legrier came at him with a bat.

After the incident — in a second statement to a Chicago Police Department detective that differed from his initial account — Rialmo had claimed LeGrier swung a baseball bat at him, prompting him to shoot. Jones was “tragically” killed by an errant gunshot, police have said. Thursday’s report said Rialmo’s statements were “inconsistent and ultimately unreliable.”

The investigators say evidence suggested Rialmo was farther from LeGrier than he said he was when he fired on the teen in the front entrance vestibule of the West Garfield Park building where LeGrier was staying with his father while on break from Northern Illinois University.

On Sunday, Hatch also called for Rialmo to be fired.

Rialmo, who was taken off the street and assigned to desk duty in the wake of the shooting, has sued LeGrier’s family and the city, citing emotional trauma and improper training. He has continued to collect his $84,054 salary, city payroll records show.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson now has up to 90 days — the clock started Thursday — to decide whether to recommend Rialmo’s firing to the Chicago Police Board, which metes out punishment in officer misconduct cases.

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