Judge: Emanuel, Johnson depositions in LeGrier, Jones case must be made public

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson were each deposed for several hours in the wrongful death lawsuits brought by the estates of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The depositions given by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson in the wrongful death lawsuits brought by the estates of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones will be made available to the public, a Cook County judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge James O’Hara ordered the two depositions, which were given last March and were closed to the public, would no longer be subject to a protective order “at the time the jury is impaneled.”

The case is set to go to trial on June 6, and jurors would be sworn in within a few weeks.

Johnson’s and Emanuel’s videotaped testimony have remained under a protective order that bars any public disclosure. Both men testified behind closed doors for several hours.

O’Hara’s order Wednesday was in response to a motion filed by attorneys for the Jones and LeGrier estates. They asked the judge to lift the protective order shortly after a letter from Eddie Johnson, who argued that Rialmo was justified in the shooting, was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Officer Robert Rialmo, who fatally shot Jones and LeGrier in the 4700 block of West Erie in December 2015, was also ordered to undergo a 10-minute deposition at the Daley Center next Tuesday.

In O’Hara’s order, he made no mention of barring members of the public from Rialmo’s brief deposition.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department, said O’Hara’s order was in line with what city attorneys wanted, too.

“Consistent with the judge’s prior rulings, attorneys for the City of Chicago yesterday asked the judge to maintain the court’s protective order on the depositions until a jury was seated,” McCaffrey said in an emailed statement. “The court agreed with this request, and the depositions will be released once the civil trial is underway.”

Through a spokesman, Johnson declined to comment on the order. Rialmo’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, and a spokesperson for the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this year, attorneys for the city, Rialmo and the Jones and LeGrier estates agreed that Emanuel’s questioning would be limited to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, conversations he had with the families of Jones and LeGrier, as well as statements he’s made about the Chicago Police Department’s “code of silence.”

Johnson’s questions, attorneys agreed, were focused on COPA’s findings that Rialmo was not justified in the December 2015 West Side shooting.

Attorneys for the city argued that the depositions should not be held in the Daley Center. Naomi Avendano told O’Hara that Emanuel and Johnson testifying at the downtown courthouse, just across the street from City Hall, would turn the proceedings into “a circus.”

O’Hara wasn’t convinced and told her that he would be “the ringmaster.”

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