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Report: Cop in LeGrier shooting says ‘sorry will never cut it.’

Friends and relatives held a vigil on Dec. 27 outside the home where Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier were shot and killed. | Getty Images

The police officer who shot and killed two people in an early morning incident on the day after Christmas has given his first media interview since then.

Robert Rialmo was among those interviewed by Time Magazine for a new report published in cooperation with The Marshall Project.

Rialmo was the officer who was responding to a call in the 4700 block of West Erie when he shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, an engineering student at Northern Illinois University who was home for the holidays, and Bettie Jones, the downstairs neighbor who had opened the front door of the apartment building when police arrived.

LeGrier’s father, Antonio LeGrier, told the Chicago Sun-Times he called police to remove his son after Quintonio tried to break down his locked bedroom door.

According to the magazine:

“Rialmo, at his lawyer’s insistence, would say little about the death of Bettie Jones. ‘I feel terrible about it to this day, and will for the rest of my life,’ he says, ‘but people don’t know how it was to be in that situation, and ‘sorry’ will never cut it.’ Of his lawsuit, he says he filed it as a way of defending his name, and he doesn’t expect to see any money from it.

“But he had plenty to say about the theorists experimenting with the city’s law enforcement. “They could send Sigmund Freud on some of these calls, and he wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Rialmo says.

And at another point, he tells Time: “If you want to be a guardian in Chicago, be prepared to start going to a lot of cops’ funerals.”

The Time story is a look at how some of the approaches being used in Chicago by then-Supt. Garry McCarthy were being looked upon favorably by the U.S. Department of Justice, which was pushing the application of the so-called “Chicago Model” in other departments across the country.

Of course, that was before the Laquan McDonald controversy led to McCarthy’s ouster.

The story describes Rialmo as having “a dusting of facial hair and arms covered with sleeves of tattoos, comes from a family of first responders. His father, who is Mexican American, is a city fireman; his mother’s brother, a mix of Italian and Irish, is a veteran cop assigned to police headquarters.” It notes that Rialmo also spent six years with the Marines, including time in Iraq patrolling Tikrit as a machine gunner on a Humvee.

The story offers without skepticism a key part of the CPD account of the incident — that Quintonio LeGrier was “combative,” as he was described in a statement issued by police later on the day of the shooting.

The story says that Rialmo “fired eight rounds from his 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun, killing his intended target — the teenager, who had run downstairs brandishing the bat — along with Bettie Jones. She was hit in the chest and collapsed backward into her apartment, her blood streaming onto her living-room floor.”

It should not come as a surprise in order for McCarthy to fall from grace, he had to have achieved some stature from which to fall. Just last year, he was among those featured at the Washington, D.C. launch of a new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, which pledged to look at how to reduce unnecessary incarceration and still maintain public safety.

Contributing: Lynn Sweet, Mitch Dudek