Two months ago, 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier was shot and killed by a police officer in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood. His death rattled the city and did nothing to boost public trust in its police department, which was already being widely condemned for another high-profile teen shooting. LeGrier’s family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit, saying his son wasn’t a threat.
Now, LeGrier’s family is being sued by the officer who shot him.
Chicago Police Department officer Robert Rialmo’s $10-million lawsuit against the deceased teen’s estate alleges that LeGrier, who called 911 three times from his home citing an emergency, provoked the shooting by swinging a baseball bat at Rialmo in close range when the officer arrived; it also says LeGrier caused him “to suffer extreme emotional trauma” from the experience. It’s an account that clashes directly with the chain of events described by LeGrier’s family, who allege LeGrier wasn’t doing anything threatening or illegal before he was shot.
Rialmo is currently struggling to overcome the “added burden” of being “forced to take a human life,” Rialmo’s lawyer Joel Brodsky told the Chicago Tribune. Rialmo also killed LeGrier’s neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, in the incident—though police have said her death was accidental.
“After this coward shot a teenager in the back,” said Basileios Foutris, an attorney for LeGrier’s family, “he has the temerity to sue him? That’s a new low for the Chicago Police Department.”
All the events come as the local department is still reeling from backlash around the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a black teen shot 16 times in 2014 by a white police officer. And the tumult is hardly new: concern over rampant police violence in the US has been boiling up for years now, culminating in the Black Lives Matter movement and other public expressions of frustration.
At this point, the city’s investigation into the LeGrier shooting is ongoing and Rialmo’s official version of events has not been released. Rialmo has been tasked indefinitely to administrative duties—paid, of course.