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The controversial case of a Chicago cop who shot and killed two people last December took another dramatic turn on Friday, when the officer sued one of the victim's families for more than $10 million in damages.
Officer Robert Rialmo, who fatally shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, has filed a counter claim in response to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the teen's family against the city of Chicago. According to the court document filed in Cook County, Rialmo claims "permanent" emotional distress and personal injuries resulting from the incident.
It is the first time since the shooting that Rialmo has publicly offered his own version of events.
Rialmo came to the front door of a two-story apartment building in the early morning hours after Christmas, responding to a dispatch about a domestic disturbance involving a "son with a baseball bat." According to Rialmo, Jones answered the door first, then retreated into her apartment, which shared a hallway with the unit where the teenager LeGrier was staying with his family. The police officer said he was standing in the building's doorway when LeGrier came "barging out of the front door to the second floor apartment while holding a baseball bat in his right hand."
Rialmo claims LeGrier then swung the bat multiple times, the first time close enough "to feel the movement of air as the bat passed in front of his face." LeGrier advanced as the officer backed down the outside stairs and shouted commands to drop the bat, Rialmo stated, adding that he feared LeGrier would hit him in the head. Rialmo then fired eight rounds "in approximately two-and-a-half seconds."
The bullets fatally struck LeGrier, as well as Jones, who by this point had re-emerged from her unit and was standing behind the teenager, according to the court filing. Rialmo stated he only saw Jones after he walked back up the stairs to LeGrier's body. A witness previously told Mother Jones that he saw LeGrier laying on top of Jones's body in the hallway.
Rialmo claims that LeGrier's actions were criminal and caused the officer to "have a reasonable apprehension of suffering an imminent battery from LeGrier, which would either cause Officer Rialmo's death or cause him severe and permanent bodily harm." These actions forced Rialmo "to end LeGrier's life, and to accidently take the innocent life of Bettie Jones," which "caused, and will continue to cause, Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma."
In the family's wrongful death suit, LeGrier's father stated that his son never posed a threat to Rialmo before the officer opened fire. Rialmo also failed to administer medical care as the teen lay bleeding on the ground, according to the family's complaint.
Rialmo's counter-claim is a rare move for an officer involved in a fatal shooting, according to the New York Times. In an email to the Times, a spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that "the city does not support the claim," and is "not involved in any way."
Here is the full text of Rialmo's claim: