Saying it was about the support of a kindred spirit — not politics — millionaire businessman and mayoral candidate Willie Wilson on Monday donated $5,000 to the grieving mother of Quintonio LeGrier.
“It just happens that I’m running for mayor, but it’s got nothing to do with it. This is the loss of a son,” said Wilson, whose son Omar was killed after being drawn into a life involving drugs and gangs.
Wilson made the donation to Janet Cooksey inside City Hall, in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.
The donation comes about a month after a Cook County judge denied a request for a new trial from LeGrier’s estate. That followed a Cook County jury’s confusing finding in a lawsuit over LeGrier’s death.
Though the jury awarded $1.05 million, it also found that Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo was reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. That mean, effectively that Rialmo was justified when he fatally shot the 19-year-old LeGrier on Dec. 26, 2015. As a result, the judge ruled, the award was wiped out.
On Monday, Wilson’s campaign said the city should pay up anyway, though Cooksey’s supporters say she doesn’t want to accept an offer that includes a gag order.
A mayoral spokesman declined to comment on the suit Monday.
A weeping Cooksey described her son, who would have celebrated his 22nd birthday Monday, as a “beautiful person.”
“I live with this death daily, and I’m not getting better,” Cooksey said, as she accepted the gift from Wilson and about $2,000 more in cash donations.
Wilson said Emanuel’s handling of the LeGrier’s case has been a “disgrace.” He called on Chicagoans to “let the mayor know that we don’t like it, and we’re not going to stand for it. We’re going to do something about it. He needs to leave that office now. He needs to leave and go back to wherever he came from.”
Rialmo and his partner, Anthony LaPalermo, responded to 4710 W. Erie about 4:25 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2015 after LeGrier and his father made calls to police. The elder LeGrier had barricaded himself in his room with a 2-by-4 a few hours earlier, and he woke up when his son tried to force his way inside.
Rialmo and LaPalermo were met at the door by Bettie Jones, the elder LeGrier’s downstairs neighbor. Rialmo said that, as the officers were on the small front porch to the property, the younger LeGrier came down the stairs and around the door with an aluminum baseball bat raised above his head. Rialmo said that he backpedaled off the porch and opened fire, killing both LeGrier and Jones, 55.
The Jones estate also sued the city, but settled for $16 million shortly before going to trial.