Members of the Chicago Police Board voted Thursday to fire a troubled officer who shot his close friend while off-duty and then lied about what happened.
In the 8-0 vote, the Police Board ruled that Officer Patrick Kelly “pulled the trigger” in a shooting over a decade ago that left his friend Michael LaPorta permanently disabled.
Kelly was off-duty when he and LaPorta hit a pair of bars and returned to his home in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 2010, the board said in a written ruling. LaPorta testified that an argument then arose over Kelly “yelling at and hitting his dog.” The board ruled that Kelly ultimately fired his service weapon, striking LaPorta in the head.
Kelly later called 911 and falsely claimed that LaPorta had committed suicide before realizing he was still breathing, according to the board, which also concluded that Kelly lied about the shooting during a subsequent interview.
A federal jury in 2017 found that Kelly shot LaPorta under similar circumstances and hit City Hall with a hefty $44.7 million verdict. However, the federal appellate court later overturned that massive judgment in February, noting that Kelly “was not acting as a Chicago police officer but as a private citizen” when LaPorta was shot.
On Thursday, LaPorta’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, called the Police Board’s ruling “a small measure of justice” for his client “and a solid decision for the residents of Chicago.” Still, Romanucci slammed the city for not acting sooner to address Kelly’s “years and years of egregious and violent behavior.”
Kelly, who had been suspended without pay as recently as February, has faced 25 allegations related to his police work and 62 use of force reports, according to the Invisible Institute. In 2017, the city settled for $500,000 in another lawsuit brought by a woman who said she suffered a miscarriage after Kelly used a Taser on her three times in 2013.
“Had the CPD implemented an early warning system, Kelly easily would have been identified as a problem officer and not have been allowed to shoot Michael LaPorta,” said Romanucci. “The real focus should remain on the tragic and life-changing impact Kelly’s violence had on his former best friend, Michael LaPorta, who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair because Kelly shot him in the head.”
Kelly’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.