The City of Chicago reached a tentative $16 million settlement with the family of 55-year old Bettie Jones, an innocent woman gunned down in a confrontation gone terribly awry.
The settlement, writes the Chicago Tribune, arrives as the lawsuit’s trial date looms. While Jones’ surviving relatives may have reached an agreement with the city, another, related case is scheduled to be heard before judge and jury later this week.
The family of 19-year old Quintonio LeGrier hasn’t yet come to terms with Chicago.
LeGrier allegedly approached law enforcement responding to a nearby domestic disturbance. Armed with a bat and apparently appearing a menace, LeGrier was shot down in a hail of bullets—several of which hit Bettie Jones.
Both individuals were killed in a shooting which the Tribune says is without precedent in the City of Chicago.
The city’s Law Department has yet to comment on the upcoming LeGrier trial. Chicago attorneys have been battling the suit since its inception, claiming officers were justified in their shooting of LeGrier—a 19-year old youth armed only with a blunt object.
An internal investigation, led by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, found Officer Robert Rialmo had fired onto LeGrier and Jones without proper justification. However, the COPA’s decision was quickly challenged by police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who claims Rialmo acted reasonably.
The officer’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, says his client was simply trying to defend himself from imminent danger.
Brodsky claims the same in another case involving Rialmo—a 2017 bar fight in which the officer assaulted two other men.
The Chicago Tribune reocunts how, on December 26th, 2015, Rialmo and a partner responded to a call in a run-down section of the city’s west side. Records obtained by the Tribune show that 19-year old LeGrier was ‘plagued’ by mental health issues and had a history of run-ins with law enforcement while attending Northern Illinois University.
Upon arriving to an Eerie Street apartment complex, Jones pointed the two officers upstairs.
Shortly after Rialmo entered, Jones appeared on the staircase with a baseball bat. Once he reached the ground floor, Rialmo opened fire, shooting eight rounds.
Six hit Jones, killing the teenager; one shot missed, and another pierced Jones’ chest.
Chicago, Brodsky and the plaintiffs all have different perspectives on how far away Rialmo was when he opened fire. The city and Rialmo’s defense attorney maintain the officer started shooting with the length of the building’s porch between them, even though several shells were found further back, near the sidewalk.
Somewhat unusually, Rialmo’s also filed a suit against the City of Chicago, alleging that he wasn’t properly trained. He’s launching a case against the LeGrier family and estate, too, claiming the shooting left him traumatized.
But Brodsky said his client doesn’t take offense to Chicago’s settlement with Jones’ relatives, saying, “Officer Rialmo has no problem with the city of Chicago paying compensation to the family of Bettie Jones, even though there is a question of legal liability, because she was assisting police when she was killed.”