CHICAGO — The father of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who was shot and killed by Chicago police Officer Robert Rialmo, contradicted the officer's testimony.
Antonio LeGrier took the stand to testify on Thursday at Rialmo's wrongful death civil trial, saying he never told Rialmo "You did what you had to do," after the Dec. 26, 2015 shooting of LeGrier. On Wednesday, Rialmo testified that the teen's father came down the stairs after the shooting and repeatedly said, "You did what you had to do."
Rialmo testified LeGrier was coming after him with a baseball bat and said he was fearful the teen would "knock his head off," so he shot him. Lawyers for the teen's family argued that LeGrier was too far to pose a direct threat to Rialmo.
One of the issues at the center of the trial is whether or not the 19-year-old swung his bat at Rialmo and how close he got to the officer who responded to the 911 call on the night of the shooting.
LeGrier's father told emergency dispatch that his son was on rampage. In emotional testimony, he told jurors he encountered a visibly upset Rialmo after the shooting. He was cursing and shouting to himself all while telling the father, "Hey did you see that? I thought the kid was going to lunge at me with a bat?"
Antonio LeGrier also testified that police would not let him go to the hospital to check on his son after the shooting. He said he felt like he was being interrogated by police.
"The jury's gonna wonder why the discrepancy? Why didn't he tell us that during his direct examination? why wasn't that fronted? And then they'll take everything else he says with a grain of salt," attorney Joel Brodsky.
Brodsky pointed to cross examination establishing that Antonio LeGrier's relationship with his son was not as close as jurors were first led to believe. LeGrier's father admitted that his son didn't live with him for most of his life.
On Wednesday, Rialmo 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 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 tried to point out discrepancies in Rialmo's statement from the night of the shooting 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.
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.
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.