CHICAGO — The judge presiding over a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from the 2015 fatal shooting of a teenager by a Chicago police officer on Wednesday reversed a jury finding in favor of the teen's family.
The Cook County jury awarded $1.05 million to the family of Quintonio LeGrier. However, Judge Rena Marie Van Tine reversed the decision after learning the jury also found Officer Robert Rialmo feared for his life when responding to a call of a disturbance.
The LeGrier estate had asked for between $12.55 million and $25.05 million. Van Tine's decision means the family will receive no money.
The jurors acted after attorneys for the estate of the 19-year-old LeGrier urged them to consider evidence and testimony indicating most of the five bullet wounds the victim suffered were in the back. They said Rialmo was too far from LeGrier when he opened fire to claim he feared an imminent threat.
Rialmo fatally shot LeGrier and his neighbor, Bettie Jones, 55, while responding to a disturbance call.
"Quintonio was not a threat to him, period," said plaintiff's attorney Basileios Foutris.
In making their decision, jurors signed a special interrogatory finding that Rialmo fired in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. Van Tine found the interrogatory outweighed the decision for LeGrier's estate and found in Rialmo's favor.
Rialmo, who is white, and his partner were responding to at least one 911 call about a domestic disturbance involving LeGrier and his father. Rialmo testified LeGrier was holding a bat over his head and swung it after barreling down the apartment steps as officers responded to the call.
Defending the city, attorney Brian Gainer said LeGrier presented an immediate lethal threat, whether he was 5 feet or more than 20 feet away.
"It happened like this," said Gainer, snapping his fingers. "There is no 'pause' button."
The shooting occurred about a month after a video was released showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in McDonald's death.
A Chicago police disciplinary body has ruled the shooting of LeGrier unjustified and recommended Rialmo's firing.
The jury on Wednesday also found in favor of Rialmo in his lawsuit filed against the LeGrier estate for the infliction of emotional distress. However, the jury didn't award him any money.