This is one of the more unusual (and disturbing) news items to pop up over the weekend. You probably recall the story of 19 year old Chicago resident Quintonio LeGrier, who was shot and killed by officer Robert Rialmo during a domestic disturbance call. LeGrier, who may have suffered from mental illness, came out of the residence with a baseball bat, ignored multiple orders to stand down and was shot. Unfortunately, one of the rounds fired by Rialmo was a “through and through” shot which passed through LeGrier and went on to strike and kill Bettie Jones, a neighbor. The City of Chicago apologized for the incident, but cleared Rialmo of wrongdoing.
This was followed by the LeGrier’s family filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer. Still nothing unusual so far, but now we come to the twist. Officer Rialmo is planning to counter-sue the estate of Quintonio LeGrier. (Yahoo News)
A white police officer plans to sue the estate of a black teenager he shot dead because he was traumatized by the fact that he accidentally killed the teen’s neighbor in the incident, his lawyer said.
“The damage is my client feels horrible that Bettie Jones is dead because of the actions he was forced to take,” attorney Joe Brodsky told AFP.
“It’s affected him greatly. It’s a burden he’s going to have to carry for the rest of his life.”
One hardly knows where to begin. The attorney for Officer Rialmo, Mr. Brodsky, clearly must think he has some sort of strategy going here. To offer the benefit of the doubt, this is being framed as a “counter-suit” since the family immediately sued the officer. From that perspective he may be thinking that he can play the refs a bit before jury selection and get people talking about something other than the original incident. Who knows? Perhaps it’s an attempt to build more sympathy for the officer.
Still, this is just a groan inducing headline and I’d expect the officer to know that himself. When you sign on for the difficult job of being a police officer, one possibility which always exists is that when you leave for work in the morning you may not be coming home to your family for dinner that night. It’s a tough reality, but the families of first responders have to deal with it every day. Unfortunately, the other possibility is that you may have to draw your weapon and potentially end the life of someone else. You try to avoid it and it will probably haunt you for a long time if it happens, but it’s just a fact of the job. I don’t expect any jury to have enough sympathy for the officer to award damages from the family of the deceased because of mental anguish over what is sometimes just part of the career you chose.
Further, there is the larger battle taking place in the court of public opinion. I realize that Officer Rialmo and his attorney have to look out for his best interests, but is this really helping? In an already tense atmosphere around Chicago I can’t imagine there being much sympathy for a cop who tries to sue the family that just buried their son, disturbed and/or violent as he may have been. This just sounds like an ill considered plan.