Rialmo: Dad said ‘You did what you needed to do,’ after shooting

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Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo. | Sun-Times file photo

Chicago Police officer Robert Rialmo testified Tuesday that after he shot a bat-wielding Quintonio LeGrier, LeGrier’s father repeatedly told him, “You did what you needed to do.”

That statement from Antonio LeGrier, Rialmo said, came after the officer asked him, “Dad, what the f—?”

Rialmo’s recollection of what Antonio LeGrier said the night his son was killed came during the third day of trial in the wrongful death suit brought against Rialmo and the city by the LeGrier estate. Rialmo is also suing the city and the LeGrier estate.

The officer, who testified for 6 ½ hours Wednesday, also said that after he fired the seven shots at LeGrier — one of which fatally struck Bettie Jones, the LeGriers’ downstairs neighbor — he walked across the street to collect himself.

Once there, officer Hodges Smith, who responded to the scene, approached Rialmo. It was then, Rialmo said, that he told Smith that he “f—– up.”

“I didn’t f— up with Quintonio,” Rialmo testified. “I f—– up with Bettie.”

Rialmo said he still thinks about Jones’ death every day.

“That’s like the worst thing I’ve ever seen, to tell you the truth,” Rialmo said, adding that Jones “was never a threat to me.”

Rialmo testified that, after coming “rumbling” down the stairs from their second floor apartment, LeGrier took a swing at Rialmo with the bat, coming within inches of striking him.

Quintonio LeGrier. | Family photo

Quintonio LeGrier. | Family photo

While being questioned by his attorney, Joel Brodsky, Rialmo demonstrated the stance taken by LeGrier when he had the 23-inch, 23-oz. aluminum baseball bat in the moments before he was shot. He raised the bat over his right shoulder, with it parallel to the ground.

“I thought he was going to try to take my head off with it,” Rialmo said.

After he swung and cocked the bat back to swing again, Rialmo opened fire, the officer testified. Rialmo said the shooting occurred when LeGrier was on the front porch of the two-flat in the 4700 block of West Erie.

LeGrier’s and Jones’ bodies were both found inside the home, with LeGrier’s partially in the vestibule and partially inside Jones’ first-floor home.

Rialmo testified Wednesday that after he shot LeGrier, the 19-year-old clutched his chest, turned to his right, said “Oh, f—” and returned to the vestibule, where he collapsed.

On Tuesday, Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist, testified that one of the bullets struck and partially severed LeGrier’s spinal cord, which would have paralyzed him immediately and made it impossible for him to walk to the vestibule after he was shot.

Rialmo also testified Wednesday that he was indeed injured after the fatal shooting, departing from what he had previously said.

One of the attorneys for LeGrier’s estate, Basileios “Bill” Foutris, asked Rialmo about any injuries he sustained as a result of the shooting.

In a previous deposition, Rialmo had said he was uninjured.

On Wednesday, Foutris asked him, “Did you sustain any injuries?”

Rialmo replied, “Yes. It changed me.”

Brian Gainer, an attorney for the city, objected to the line of questioning by Foutris and his attempt to show contrast in testimony, calling it, “completely misleading.”

Cross-examination and redirect of Rialmo concluded Wednesday and he likely will not be called to testify again.

After the jury was dismissed around 5 p.m., Rialmo walked into the courtroom’s conference room. Antonio LeGrier has sat near the door to the conference room throughout the trial. As Rialmo walked in, he said something to Antonio LeGrier, who shook his head left to right and raised his hands to chest level.

Asked what Rialmo said to him, Antonio LeGrier said, “I can’t talk about it.”

Reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune witnessed the brief exchange and were later asked what happened by Cook County sheriff’s officers.

In the early hours of Dec. 26, 2015, Rialmo and his partner Anthony LaPalermo were responding to a call of a domestic disturbance at the LeGrier home in the 4700 block of West Erie.

Bettie Jones, the LeGrier’s 55-year-old downstairs neighbor, answered the door for Rialmo and his partner. LeGrier came down the stairs with an aluminum baseball bat — which has been used repeatedly as a prop in the trial — and Rialmo opened fire shortly after. LeGrier and Jones were both killed.

At issue in the wrongful death suit is how close LeGrier was to Rialmo when the officer opened fire and whether or not he was swinging the bat at him when he was shot.

Melinek also testified that, given the wound path of one of the shots that struck LeGrier, he could not have been holding the bat above his head when Rialmo shot him, as the officer had previously stated.

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