Robert Rialmo’s firing by Chicago Police Department upheld by appellate court

He was fired in 2019 for inadvertently shooting and killing a bystander at a West Side home where he said a 19-year-old man charged at him with a baseball bat.

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Former Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo, in 2018.

Former Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo, in 2018.

Max Herman / Sun-Times

An Illinois appellate court has rejected fired former Officer Robert Rialmo’s latest attempt to rejoin the Chicago Police Department.

Rialmo was fired in 2019 for inadvertently shooting and killing a bystander in 2015 at a West Side home where he said a 19-year-old man charged at him with a baseball bat.

Rialmo killed the young man, though that shooting wasn’t a factor in his dismissal.

Rialmo sued the city and the Chicago Police Board — the agency responsible for meting out discipline to officers accused of misconduct — in an effort to overturn the decision to fire him. A Cook County judge rejected that lawsuit in 2020, upholding Rialmo’s firing.

He then took his case to the Illinois Appellate Court, which ruled Friday that the disciplinary process was fair and that “there was cause for an officer’s discharge.”

Rialmo’s lawyer couldn’t be reached. City officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The call that ended up costing two people their lives and Rialmo his job came in the early hours of Dec. 26, 2015. Rialmo and his partner were dispatched to the 4700 block of West Erie Street for a domestic disturbance involving Northern Illinois University student Quintonio LeGrier and his father

LeGrier was in the midst of a mental health episode and his father barricaded himself in his bedroom while the younger LeGrier tried to get in with an aluminum bat. LeGrier’s father called his downstairs neighbor Bettie Jones, 55, and asked her to open the front door for police when they arrived.

When Rialmo and his partner arrived at the two-flat, Jones opened the door and motioned to the officers that the problem was coming from the second floor. Rialmo later testified that he was standing on the building’s front porch, while his partner was standing a few feet behind him.

LeGrier charged down the stairs with the bat and took a swing at Rialmo, who was able to duck out of the way. Rialmo then opened fire, fatally striking LeGrier and Jones. It’s still unclear whether Jones was hit by an errant bullet or one that passed through LeGrier’s body.

The LeGrier and Jones families sued Rialmo and the city. Before the case went to trial, City Hall settled with Jones’ estate for $16 million —one of the biggest settlements the city has ever paid.

A Cook County jury awarded the LeGrier estate $1.05 million after an eight-day trial in 2018, but that was immediately nullified because jurors said the shooting of LeGrier was justified.

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