A police use of force expert has testified in the wrongful death suit against City of Chicago for the shooting death of Quintonio Legrier.
In December 2015, Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones were shot and killed by Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo. Officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call from LeGrier’s father, who said that his son had a baseball bat in his hand.
Officer Rialmo told investigators that LeGrier was holding a bat above his head and coming at him when he fired at him. Rialmo said that he had been “in fear of his life.” Jones was shot accidentally. LeGrier was a 19-year-old college student and Jones was a 55-year-old tenant on LeGrier’s father’s property.
Investigation of Officer’s Conduct
Following an investigation, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability stated that the shooting was unjustified and recommended that Rialmo be fired. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson disagreed with those findings and said that Rialmo’s actions were within department policy. One member of the police board agreed and the matter is currently pending before the full police board.
Wrongful Death Trial
The families of LeGrier and Jones sued the City of Chicago for their wrongful deaths. The estate of Bettie Jones settled with the city a few days before the start of the trial. The civil case brought by the estate of Quintonio LeGrier continued to trial.
The City of Chicago retained a police use of force expert, Emanuel Kapelsohn, to testify at trial. Kapelsohn has been an expert witness and consultant for thousands of cases. Kapelsohn told jurors that Officer Rialmo had no choice but to shoot Quintonio LeGrier and that a stun gun, pepper spray, or a baton would not have been the correct response to someone charging at an officer with an aluminum bat. Kapelsohn testified, “In my opinion, Officer Rialmo’s use of force is in keeping with and is consistent with standard police training…. The officer isn’t a mind reader…. The officer can’t afford to wait to see if the person swings the bat at his head.”
Kapelsohn said that he could determine where Rialmo was standing when he fired by figuring out where the casings would land. Kapelsohn test-fired Rialmo’s gun to see where the shell casings were ejected to and compared it to a photo that was taken after the shooting. The photo showed that three casings were found on the sidewalk, two were found on the grass between the sidewalk and the street, and one was found by the grass near the porch. An additional casing was found across the street. Kapelsohn said that the positions of the six casings found near the building were “inconsistent with the officer firing from the public sidewalk.”
Under cross-examination, Kapelsohn admitted that he has testified on numerous police use of force cases for the City in the past, earning a total of over $200,000. Kapelsohn also said that he reviewed some of the police witness statements but that he did not review the statement by Quintonio’s father, Antonio. Kapelsohn also stated that he has worked for several gun manufacturers and that he has not gotten academic training on shooting reconstruction.
An update to this case can be found here.