In the hours after his close friend suffered a gunshot wound to his head, Chicago Police Officer Patrick Kelly found himself handcuffed to a wall in a CPD interview room.
Federal jurors saw black-and-white video Tuesday of Kelly sitting in that interview room, surrounded by plain walls and a checkered floor, as opening statements continued in a trial revolving around the gunshot wound that left Michael D. LaPorta permanently disabled.
The bullet came from Kelly’s service weapon. And a lawyer for LaPorta’s family said earlier this week that there is “overwhelming evidence” that Kelly shot LaPorta. That lawyer also alleged that Chicago Police circled the wagons to protect one of their own.
But Eileen Rosen, a lawyer representing the city, pointed to the video of Kelly in the interview room and told jurors, “that’s not special treatment.”
She also predicted LaPorta’s family will fall short of a key hurdle at the end of what is expected to be a weeks-long trial: Convincing the jury that Kelly pulled the trigger early on the morning of Jan. 12, 2010.
“They cannot prove that Kelly shot LaPorta,” Rosen said.
The jury hearing the case in U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber’s courtroom will be asked to consider whether the city failed to rein in Kelly, an officer with an alleged history of violence described in court as a “loose-cannon, ticking-time-bomb police officer.”
Earlier this year, the city settled for $500,000 a separate lawsuit brought by a woman who said she suffered a miscarriage after Kelly used a Taser on her three times in August 2013. The LaPorta family’s lawsuit also alleges 19 complaints had been registered against Kelly in six years before LaPorta’s shooting.
Still, Rosen told jurors Tuesday that anyone can file a complaint against a Chicago Police officer. And she said the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office have looked into LaPorta’s shooting and chose not to bring charges.
CPD is now taking a second look at the incident, though. Kelly remains on the force but has been assigned to administrative duties. His lawyer declined to comment this week.
Despite promising “overwhelming evidence” pointing to Kelly during his opening statement Monday, Rosen said the LaPorta family’s lawyer chose instead to highlight the evidence that is missing from the case.
When she had her turn Tuesday, Rosen played a recording of a 911 call — the second placed by Kelly the day LaPorta was shot in Kelly’s home — in which Kelly can be heard sobbing and telling a dispatcher, “I need a f—ing ambulance!”
The shooting occurred after LaPorta and Kelly spent the night drinking at multiple bars with other off-duty Chicago Police officers.
When paramedics arrived at Kelly’s home after the shooting, Rosen said Kelly was “extremely upset,” “agitated” and “not calm-able.” He yelled obscenities at a sergeant and was ultimately arrested for simple assault. A judge later found him not guilty, Rosen said.
Eventually, she said Kelly told detectives he had watched LaPorta put Kelly’s service weapon to his head before pulling the trigger twice. The first time, Kelly said he simply heard a click — followed by LaPorta’s laughter. The second time, the gun fired.