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Chicago police commander contradicts LeGrier’s dad; closing arguments Wednesday

Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photos

For the third time in a week, a Chicago police official contradicted the testimony of Quintonio LeGrier’s father.

Kevin Duffin was commander of Area North detectives before he retired earlier this year. He was at the scene of the shooting at 4710 W. Erie and interviewed LeGrier’s father twice.

Duffin testified Tuesday that Antonio LeGrier told him “the police did what they needed to do” after officer Robert Rialmo fatally shot his son in the early hours of Dec. 26, 2015.

Upon hearing Duffin say that, Antonio LeGrier — who has sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery throughout the trial — leaned forward and put his face in his hands.

In recent days, Rialmo and his partner, Anthony LaPalermo, testified to hearing Antonio LeGrier say words to the same effect. Antonio LeGrier denied ever saying it when he testified last week.

Antonio LeGrier called 911 after his son tried to break in to his room — which was barricaded with a two-by-four — with an aluminum baseball bat. His son also called the police.

Rialmo and LaPalermo responded around 4:25 a.m. Rialmo has said that moments after he got to the front door, LeGrier charged him with the bat and took a swing, missing by a few inches as he stood on the front porch. Rialmo says he then fired as he backpedaled off the steps of the front porch.

Officer Robert Rialmo. | Max Herman / Sun-Times
Officer Robert Rialmo. | Max Herman / Sun-Times
Max Herman / Sun-Times

LeGrier was shot at least five times, including several in the back, and was found unresponsive in the vestibule of the building. His estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and Rialmo shortly after.

Bettie Jones, the LeGriers’ downstairs neighbor who opened the door for police, was accidentally shot and killed. Her estate reached a $16 million settlement with the city.

Attorneys for the city and Rialmo — who also is suing the LeGrier estate — rested Tuesday, as well.

Closing arguments are planned starting Wednesday morning.

Duffin also testified that he first spoke with the elder LeGrier for about 15 or 20 minutes in his bedroom on the second floor of the West Side two-flat about an hour after Rialmo shot his son. Duffin said he went to the scene because it was just after Christmas and he had a “skeleton crew” of detectives that night.

He said Antonio LeGrier “seemed surprisingly calm.”

Duffin said Antonio LeGrier first told him he was in his bedroom when he heard the gunshots from outside. Duffin said that later, when Antonio LeGrier was asked to come to Area North headquarters at Belmont and Western, he told him he was halfway down the stairs and could see out the door, onto the porch and down the walkway.

Kevin Duffin was commander of Area North detectives before retiring this year. He was at the scene of the shooting at 4710 W. Erie and interviewed LeGrier’s father twice. | James Foster / Sun-Times
Kevin Duffin was commander of Area North detectives before retiring this year. He was at the scene of the shooting at 4710 W. Erie and interviewed LeGrier’s father twice. | James Foster / Sun-Times

Antonio LeGrier testified last week that he didn’t see anyone from his perch on the stairs when he heard shots fired.

Between his conversations with the elder LeGrier in his bedroom and at the police station, Duffin said Antonio LeGrier’s version of events “differed at several points.”

Dr. Hilary McElligott, a forensic pathologist retained by the city who works in the DuPage County coroner’s office, testified Tuesday that, based on her review of Rialmo’s statements, the gunshot wounds to Antonio LeGrier’s left shoulder were “consistent” with him having raised a bat above his head.

Last week, a forensic pathologist hired by the LeGrier estate testified there was no evidence to show Quintonio LeGrier had a bat raised above his head when he was shot.

Dr. Judy Melinek also said that, because one of the bullets partially severed his spinal cord, Quintonio LeGrier would have been paralyzed from the waist down. With that paralysis, Melinek said, Quintonio LeGrier would not have been able to move to the vestibule if he were at the edge of the porch, as Rialmo has said.

Under cross-examination from LeGrier estate attorney Jack Kennedy, McElligott said she relied mostly upon Rialmo’s statements to come to her conclusions and did not perform an independent analysis of the materials presented to her.

“I took the information in the depositions and statements and used them as to form my opinion,” she said.

The case has largely centered around how close LeGrier and Rialmo were to each other when Rialmo fired, as well as where the two were on the property at the time.