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Judge orders CPD to give Robert Rialmo his gun back

Robert Rialmo

Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo, the officer who shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones in December 2015, is shown leaving court at the Daley Center earlier this year. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department was ordered to return a gun to Officer Robert Rialmo — the same gun the embattled officer used to fatally shoot Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier nearly three years ago.

Records show that Cook County Judge Rena Marie Van Tine issued the order Monday, instructing the CPD to “immediately” hand over Rialmo’s 9mm Smith & Wesson pistol. Rialmo’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, told the Sun-Times that it’s the same gun Rialmo used in the shooting.

The order — which was not objected to — was entered in the civil case brought against Rialmo and the city by the LeGrier estate. After an eight-day trial last June, a jury awarded the LeGrier estate $1.05 million in damages. That award was immediately nullified when the jury said, effectively, that Rialmo was justified when he opened fire.

Attorneys for the LeGrier estate were denied when they asked for a new trial and have vowed to appeal.

Rialmo and his partner, Anthony LaPalermo, responded to 4710 W. Erie St. about 4:25 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2015 after LeGrier and his father had both made calls to police. The elder LeGrier had barricaded himself in his room with a 2 x 4 a few hours earlier, and he was awakened when his son tried to force his way inside.

Rialmo and LaPalermo arrived and were met at the door by Jones, the elder LeGrier’s downstairs neighbor. Rialmo said that as the officers were on the small front porch to the property, the younger LeGrier, 19, came down the stairs and around the door with an aluminum baseball bat raised above his head. Rialmo said that he backpedaled off the porch and opened fire.

Jones, a 55-year-old grandmother, was killed by a stray bullet. Her estate reached a $16 million settlement with the city just before the start of the trial.

Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photos

Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photos

Rialmo, 29, was never criminally charged in the shooting, but the Chicago Police Board — the body that metes out discipline to officers, appointed by the mayor — could still fire or suspend Rialmo. The first status hearing in that case is scheduled for next Tuesday.

“He’s confident that [he’s] going to get the same result as every other time he’s had a hearing and he’ll be found justified,” Brodsky said.

Rialmo has been assigned to desk duty since the shooting and his police powers were stripped 11 months ago after he was involved in a fight at a Northwest Side restaurant and bar.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended that CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson move to fire Rialmo for the shooting, but Johnson concluded that Rialmo’s actions were “justified and within department policy.”

The impasse meant that a single member of the police board had to decide whether or not the case would be heard by the full board. Last April, board member Eva-Dina Delgado decided to advance Rialmo’s case.

With Rialmo’s case heading to the full board, despite Johnson’s initial findings, the CPD filed several charges against Rialmo earlier this month. The following violations were alleged: action or conduct impeding department efforts to achieve its policy and goals or bringing discredit upon the department; disobeying an order or directive; inattention to duty; incompetency or inefficiency in the performance of duty; and unlawful or unnecessary use or display of a weapon.

The charges brought against Rialmo do not mention LeGrier and focus largely on Jones’ death.

“Officer Robert Rialmo, Star No. 15588, without justification, used force likely to cause death or great bodily harm without a reasonable belief that such force was necessary when he fired his weapon one or more times in the direction of Bettie Jones, hitting Ms. Jones and causing her death,” the charges read.

The police board could take months to render a decision on Rialmo’s future with the CPD. Earlier this year, the officer has said he’d prefer to work for the Chicago Fire Department.

Eleven months ago, Rialmo was involved in a fight at a bar and restaurant on the Northwest Side and charged with battery. He was found not guilty earlier this summer, though COPA is still investigating the incident.

Earlier this summer, he was captured on video in another scuffle. The CPD’s Internal Affairs Division is still investigating, according to a department spokesman.