Chicago Officer Will Not Face Charges for Accidental Shooting of Bettie Jones

Prosecutors announced Friday that no criminal charges would be brought against a Chicago police officer who fatally shot a baseball bat-wielding college student and mistakenly fatally-wounded his neighbor during a 2015 incident that came at a tense moment for police in the nation’s third-largest city.

Within hours of the Dec. 26, 2015, shooting deaths of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and his neighbor Bettie Jones, 55, police acknowledged that Jones was accidentally killed by the officer, Robert Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance involving LeGrier.

“After thorough review, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Rialmo did not act in self-defense in shooting LeGrier and Jones,” the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The killing of Jones and LeGrier came at a moment when the city was already reeling from the release of a police video in late November that showed a white officer fatally shoot a black teen, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. The officer in that incident, Jason Van Dyke, is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.

LeGrier was in the midst of a mental health crisis when police were called to the home. A 911 dispatcher initially hung up on LeGrier and failed to dispatch police when he initially called officers. LeGrier told the dispatcher that he was being threatened, but refused to answer the dispatcher’s questions and sounded as if he was also talking to someone else, according to the city’s Independent Police Review Authority.

Minutes after the teen was hung up on, a man who identified himself as Quintonio’s father, Antonio LeGrier, called 911 and requested help, saying that his son was attempting to break into his bedroom.

Rialmo said in a statement that he “had no choice but to use deadly force.”

“Being right does not make it any less of a tragedy that two people are dead and I was the cause of their deaths,” Rialmo said. ”I was pushed to the level of having to fire my weapon by Quintonio LeGrier in order to save my life, and that of my partner. If there was anything else I could have done besides using deadly force, I would have done it.”

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Source: USA Today | Aamer Madhani