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A year after shooting, family of Bettie Jones seeks ‘justice’

Latonya Jones, daughter of Bettie Jones, speaks from the pulpit of Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park on Monday, Dec. 26, the anniversary of her mother's death in a double-shooting by a Chicago Police officer. Bettie Jones was standing behind 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier in the foyer of their apartment, when CPD Ofc. Robert Rialmo opened fire on the teen. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

A year after her mother was killed by a Chicago Police officer, Latonya Jones said her family still is waiting for justice.

On the day after Christmas 2015, Bettie Jones, 55, was standing behind her 19-year-old neighbor, Quintonio LeGrier, when CPD officer Robert Rialmo opened fire on the teen, claiming LeGrier was swinging a baseball bat. LeGrier and Jones both were killed, the first fatal police shootings after the city was convulsed by protests in the wake of the release of video of Laquan McDonald being gunned down by a CPD officer.

On Monday, Latonya Jones stood at the pulpit of Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park and called for criminal charges against Rialmo, who has remained on the job — and even was returned to patrol duties for six month — while the Independent Police Review Authority investigates the shooting.

Bettie Jones had opened the door for Rialmo, who arrived at the two-flat apartment in the 4700 block of West Erie, after LeGrier made multiple calls to police. Rialmo said LeGrier swung a baseball bat at him before he shot LeGrier.

“I just want to seek justice for my mom at the end of the day and make sure that all of the killer cops is off the street,” Latonya Jones said. “Because my mom didn’t deserve to die. She was doing her civic duty by opening her door for police.”

The investigation has taken unusual turns over the past 12 months. Rialmo hired his own attorney and filed a countersuit against both LeGrier and the CPD, claiming he suffered psychological trauma from a shooting he claims was instigated by LeGrier attacking him with the bat. Rialmo also claims the CPD should have trained and equipped him better to deal with mentally ill people.

Lawyers for the two families have questioned the investigation conducted by CPD detectives who initially processed the scene of the shooting, and IPRA investigators have turned over some evidence to the FBI for technological assistance in recreating the bullet trajectories.

Rialmo had been moved to desk duty after the shooting, but this spring was returned to the streets for six months, a move that Latonya Jones called “a slap in the face.” CPD brass weren’t pleased with Rialmo’s return to regular police work, either.

Rialmo was put back in an administrative job in November, and this month, Supt. Eddie Johnson issued a formal reprimand to Cmdr. William Looney, who supervised Rialmo’s district. Jones said she wanted to see criminal charges filed against Rialmo.

“It’s hard when you lose your mother. Your mother is your everything, and that’s what the police took from us,” Latonya Jones said. “That is a slap in the face. They let a killer cop go back on the street. I’m like, ‘Is he going to come kill us next?'”