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Two years after Quintonio LeGrier’s death, mother still waiting for answers

Janet Cooksey speaks at a press conference on the second anniversary of the death of her 19-year-old son Quintonio LeGrier. LeGrier was killed two years ago. The lawsuit she and LeGrier's father filed has not yet gone to trial. | Rachel Hinton/Sun-Times

On the second anniversary of Quintonio LeGrier’s death, his mother, Janet Cooksey, said at a press conference Tuesday that the wrong parent was there the day he died.

Cooksey took LeGrier, 19, to his father’s home on Christmas after they had an argument. He was killed there early the next day after calling 911 three times, and Cooksey says she regrets having taken LeGrier to his father’s home.

She hopes to right that wrong a little when the case goes to trial in June 2018.

“I’m hoping to clear his name and I want everyone to see what I know: that he’s a good person and he did the right thing,” Cooksey said. “You don’t call the police three times and then try to attack them when they come. I hope that’s proven so everyone can know what I know.”

Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photo

The family filed a lawsuit days after LeGrier, 19, was killed by Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo, but it remains tied up in court with new motions filed regularly.

RELATED: Quintonio LeGrier coverage

On Dec. 26, 2015, LeGrier, 19, was shot and killed by Officer Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call. Rialmo also killed LeGrier’s neighbor, Bettie Jones, who opened the door for Rialmo when he arrived. Two days after his death, LeGrier’s estate filed a suit against the city and Rialmo, saying he was wrongfully killed. Rialmo, citing emotional trauma and improper training, is countersuing LeGrier’s family and the city.

The city also briefly filed suit against LeGrier’s family, but withdrew its motion the following day.

The details surrounding what happened that night are still in question. The family’s suit claims Rialmo shot LeGrier without justification, used excessive force and did not provide medical care to LeGrier while he lay dying.

• Dec. 28, 2015 — LeGrier’s parents file a lawsuit against the city and Officer Robert Rialmo alleging LeGrier was shot and killed without justification.
• March 3, 2016 — The FBI joins the probe into LeGrier’s death. Former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asked the feds to assist in the investigation and called it a “deeply disturbing incident that demands a very deliberate and meticulous investigation.”
• Dec. 15, 2016 — Rialmo files a lawsuit against the city alleging that he wasn’t trained to deal with “mentally ill people.” This suit follows another Rialmo filed against LeGrier’s family in February 2016.
• Feb. 10, 2017 — No criminal charges are filed against Rialmo, because prosecutors from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office “could not prove the officer was not acting in self-defense.”
• Dec. 14, 2017 — The city’s law department files a lawsuit against LeGrier’s family. The motion is withdrawn the next day. Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls it a “callous” decision.

Rialmo claims LeGrier charged toward him with a bat and swung at him multiple times, barely missing his head. When LeGrier didn’t listen to orders to drop the bat, Rialmo “reasonably believed that if he did not use deadly force against LeGrier, that LeGrier would kill him.” He fired eight shots. Six hit LeGrier and one hit Jones, though Rialmo claims he did not see her.

Despite the facts being in dispute, Cooksey maintains her son’s innocence.

“He was a great person with a big heart who wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Cooksey said. “That’s what I want people to remember.”

The family’s lawsuit is set for trial on June 6, 2018.