08:14, June 29 282 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-29 08:14:10
Judge overturns $1M verdict against cop who shot teen, cites jurors’ answer on special interrogatory

A judge in Chicago announced a $1.05 million verdict in favor of a slain teen's family Wednesday, then said the wrongful death verdict can’t stand because of jurors’ answer to a question on a special interrogatory about the officer who fired the gun.

Judge Rena Marie Van Tine reversed the monetary award to the family of the teen, Quintonio LeGrier, because of a question about the officer’s state of mind, report the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and WGN 9.

LeGrier was holding a bat when Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo shot and killed him in December 2015. Testimony at trial differed over whether LeGrier had raised the bat and how much distance separated him and Rialmo when the officer fired his gun.

Rialmo had encountered LeGrier, who had a history of apparent mental health issues, when responding to a domestic disturbance call. When Rialmo shot Grier, a bullet also took the life of a neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, whose family has reached a proposed $16 million settlement with the city of Chicago.

Here is the special interrogatory question that led to reversal of the verdict: “When Robert Rialmo used deadly force against Quintonio LeGrier, did Robert Rialmo reasonably believe that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or [his partner] Anthony LaPalermo?”

The Cook County jurors answered yes. Rialmo’s lawyer, Joel Brodsky, told the Sun-Times the answer showed the shooting was justified. City lawyers had also represented Rialmo.

In another twist, Rialmo had sued LeGrier’s estate on the ground that the teen was responsible for the shooting and had caused mental distress. Jurors found for Rialmo, but awarded him no money.

Jury foreman Dave Fitzsimmons told reporters at the courthouse that he expected the $1.05 million verdict to be imposed and the amount was based on the amount of money LeGrier would have made in his lifetime.