Officer in LeGrier case expected to take stand Tuesday

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CHICAGO -- Opening statements concluded Monday morning in the high-profile police shooting case involving Quintonio LeGrier.

LeGrier, 19, had a history of mental illness. He was wielding a baseball bat in the entrance of his home when he was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer on the day after Christmas in 2015.

His family is now suing that officer in civil court.

Jurors have been asked to decide whether the city should be held liable for LeGrier's death. In other words: Was this shooting justified?

Officer Robert Rialmo was absent from the courtroom.

Rialmo’s attorney Joel Brodsky says he didn’t want the jury to pick apart or midjudge Rialmo’s body language. So he didn’t want his client to come to court.

Tuesday, though, the officer is expected to testify.

In opening statements, the jury heard a little about what happened the morning of the shooting. LeGrier had been arguing with his father. They both called 911. When police showed up they thought it was a domestic incident.

Attorneys for LeGrier's family plan to focus on where Officer Robert Rialmo was when he shot LeGrier, on the sidewalk outside the home. They claim the officer's story is inconsistent, even diverging from what his partner claimed happened.

On the other hand, defense attorneys argue LeGrier charged at the officer with a bat and the officer fired to protect his life. They say he had no time or opportunity to do anything else, and he fired seven times because police officers are taught to fire until the risk is over.

An interesting twist to this case: The officer has filed a counter-claim against the family, alleging the officer is under extreme emotional distress because he had to shoot LeGrier. They have also filed a counter-claim against the city, claiming the city routinely sends officers into dangerous situation without enough training and equipment. Both of those issues will be discussed as this trial continues.

The trial is expected to last several weekes.

Quintonio LeGrier's downstairs neighbor, Bettie Jones, 55, was also shot and killed that day. She was an innocent bystander. City lawyers have reached a tentative $16 million financial settlement with her family.


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