With a jury in the Quintonio LeGrier wrongful death lawsuit impaneled Thursday afternoon, the city released video and transcripts of depositions given in the case by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
At the end of Emanuel’s several hours of testimony, attorneys for the LeGrier estate dogged the mayor with questions about his interactions with LeGrier’s parents in the days after the 19-year-old was shot to death by Officer Robert Rialmo.
Basileios “Bill” Foutris asked Emanuel — who noted he is often in contact with parents of murder victims — to recall his meeting with LeGrier’s father.
Emanuel said he couldn’t remember where they met, but that it was within three days of the Dec. 26, 2015, West Side shooting. Foutris told him the two met at the Palmer House Hilton hotel downtown.
“You would agree with me that it was apparent to you that he was grieving over the loss of his son?” Foutris asked.
“I don’t remember,” Emanuel said. “But as a father of three children, yes. But I don’t — I don’t remember. I couldn’t even tell you the place we met. But I do — I know that he has a loss of a son.”
“My attempt, when I meet with families, is more to let them know in a moment of loneliness that they’re not alone,” Emanuel added.
Foutris tried to ask Emanuel about his remarks after it was reported that attorneys for the city asked Janet Cooksey, LeGrier’s mother, if she had engaged in prostitution around the time LeGrier was born.
In Johnson’s deposition, Foutris asked him if, while serving a chief of the patrol bureau or as superintendent, Johnson had ever seen or heard anything related to a “code of silence” within the CPD.
Johnson said no — echoing his previous public statements on the issue.
The superintendent was asked what he thought of a December 2015 City Council speech from Emanuel — delivered shortly after the release of the Laquan McDonald video but before Bettie Jones and LeGrier were shot — in which the mayor said there was a “code of silence” within the department.
“I have no opinion about what the mayor said,” Johnson told Foutris. “The mayor was speaking from what his experience is. So I really have no opinion about what the mayor said.”
Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. | Provided photos
The six men and eight women of the jury were sworn in by Cook County Judge Rena Marie Van Tine, who is presiding over the wrongful death case brought by the LeGrier estate against the city and Rialmo.
Over five hours Thursday, Van Tine and attorneys for the city and the LeGrier estate asked the pool of 42 prospective jurors dozens of questions to gauge their open-mindedness, their feelings toward police as well as what they already knew about the high-profile shooting.
Joel Brodsky, Rialmo’s attorney, stepped out of the Daley Center’s courtroom 2303 around 10:20 a.m. after he introduced himself to the prospective jurors. He was not in court to ask them any questions, but, after he left, he tweeted: “All 14 jurors in the first group are acceptable to me (for Rialmo).”
Brodsky returned to court around 2:30 p.m. after questioning had finished.
Attorneys for the city, Rialmo and LeGrier estate will be back in Van Tine’s courtroom Friday to further hash out jury instructions.
Foutris said that Rialmo will be called to testify either Monday after opening statements or early Tuesday.
Among the jury candidates was Shannon DiGiovanni. She was not selected as a juror after she disclosed that she’s married to Joseph DiGiovanni.
Joseph DiGiovanni was the first paramedic at the scene of the Dec. 26, 2015, shooting in the 4700 block of West Erie. He will be called to testify.
One prospective juror asked Van Tine if the case was also being tried in criminal court. Van Tine told the juror that “It’s no an issue for this jury to consider.”
In 2017, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office announced it would not bring any criminal charges against Rialmo in the shooting.
The estate of Bettie Jones — who was also fatally shot by Rialmo — agreed to settle its lawsuit against the city and Rialmo last Friday. Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times that the agreement was for $16 million, which is still subject to approval from the Finance Committee and full City Council.
Rialmo shot and killed LeGrier and Jones on Dec. 26, 2015. It was the first fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer after the release of the Laquan McDonald video.
Police were called to LeGrier’s father’s home in the 4700 block of West Erie to respond to a domestic incident between the two LeGriers. Jones answered the door for Rialmo. Once the door was opened, LeGrier — armed with a metal baseball bat — charged at Rialmo, who opened fire. LeGrier and Jones were both killed.