City, estate of Bettie Jones reach settlement in 2015 police-involved shooting

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Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photos

Just days before the trial was slated to start, attorneys for the city reached a settlement with the estate of Bettie Jones, one of two people shot to death by Chicago police Officer Robert Rialmo in December 2015.

Terms of the settlement — still subject to approval from the Finance Committee and full City Council — were not disclosed.

The civil case, brought against the city and Rialmo by Jones’ estate and that of Quintonio LeGrier, was set to go to trial this month. Jury selection is still expected to start next week.

Attorneys for the Jones estate could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The wrongful death suits against the city and Rialmo were filed shortly after the officer fatally shot the two people in the 4700 block of West Erie on Dec. 26, 2015.

The shooting was the first fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer after the release of the Laquan McDonald video.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, its investigatory methods, the police department’s purported “code of silence,” and use of force by police have all come under extra scrutiny since the suits were filed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson were the subjects of closed-door depositions earlier this year. Both lasted several hours and were videotaped. A judge ruled that the depositions may be made public once a jury is impaneled.

Rialmo was the subject of a 10-minute deposition last week.

Police were called to LeGrier’s father’s home for a domestic incident between Antonio LeGrier and his son — who was suffering from a mental episode as he was home on winter break from Northern Illinois University.

After Jones opened the front door for Rialmo; the officer opened fire, killing both Quintonio LeGrier and Jones.

Soon after the shooting, Rialmo told police Detective Daniel Jensen that LeGrier came charging down the stairs with a bat over his head, forcing him to shoot “in fear of his life” from just a few feet away, the report said.

Last year, COPA — formerly the Independent Police Review Authority — ruled that Rialmo was not justified when he shot LeGrier and Jones. The police oversight agency recommended he be fired.

The investigators say evidence suggested Rialmo was farther from LeGrier than he said he was when he fired on the teen.

Johnson rebuked those findings and recommendations in a letter to COPA, saying that Rialmo’s actions were within department policy. Eventually, a single member of the police board found that there was sufficient cause to bring the shooting case before the full police board. That matter is still pending.

Attorneys for the LeGrier and Jones estates filed several motions for sanctions against the city throughout the pre-trial proceedings, arguing that city attorneys allowed an expert witness to give false testimony.

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