Chicago police officer testifies in Quintonio LeGrier wrongful death lawsuit for 2nd day

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CHICAGO — The Chicago police officer at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit after fatally shooting a 19-year-old college student took the stand for a second day on Wednesday.

Officer Robert Rialmo, who shot and killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier in 2015, took the stand Wednesday, and it was the first time the jury heard emotion from him. During his first day on the stand, he seemed nervous and at times, annoyed while answering questions.

On Wednesday, he said he thinks about the shooting every day, and said it has affected his ability to sleep. He said he gained 50 pounds and when it came to the fatal shooting of 55-year-old Bettie Jones, he knows he "screwed up."

Rialmo walked into the courtroom escorted by sheriff's deputies because of alleged death threats.

The attorneys for the LeGrier family continued their questioning about the morning of Dec. 26, 2015 when LeGrier was shot. They tried to point out discrepancies in Rialmo's statement from that night and in his deposition about where LeGrier was standing when he fired the seven shots, five of which hit LeGrier and another hit Jones who was standing behind him.

During cross examination, the city's attorney said Rialmo received marksman training during his time in the Marines, and said he had been trained by Chicago police about the use of deadly force. That meant to counter Rialmo's claim that the training he received at the police academy was "a joke."

The attorney also got Rialmo to say that pepper spray, a baton or Taser would not have been effective in stopping LeGrier.

The city's attorney asked Rialmo why he didn't just run and hide behind a car like his partner.

"If I had turned toward the street to run, he would be on my ass with the bat," Rialmo said.

Right after the shooting, Riamo said LeGrier's father, Antonio LeGrier,  came down the stairs and said, "You did what you had to do."

The attorney asked how may times did he said that. Rialmo said, "Repeatedly."

LeGrier's mother had to  leave the courtroom during testimony because she became too emotional.

Rialmo also testified that he ordered LeGrier at least 10 times to drop a bat, but that LeGrier kept approaching while swinging. The defense claims LeGrier's twisting motion explains why he was shot in his back multiple times.

LeGrier's family sued the city after LeGrier was fatally shot five times by Rialmo about 4:30 a.m. Dec. 26, 2015. The officer was responding to a disturbance call at LeGrier's father's apartment in the 4700 block of West Erie Street.

Jones, a neighbor, was also shot and killed during the incident in what police dubbed an accident.

According to the Chicago Police Department, LeGrier was swinging an aluminum baseball bat at Rialmo. A police disciplinary body later found no evidence LeGrier did so.

An autopsy revealed LeGrier had marijuana in his system. Officials said the teen had mental health problems and had had previous run-ins with police.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office declined to file charges against Rialmo.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, said Rialmo should be fired and ruled the shooting was unjustified. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson disagreed.

Two years after Jones’ shooting, city lawyers reached a tentative $16 million financial settlement with her family.

LeGrier called 911 three times the morning he was shot. In February 2016, city officials said two 911 operators were suspended without pay for failing to send police when LeGrier was shot. It wasn’t until the third call that the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications sent a squad car to check on the 19-year-old.

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