Chicago’s police chief refuses to dismiss a troubled officer who killed two Black people.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson rejected a recommendation from the city’s police disciplinary agency to fire Officer Robert Rialmo, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday, based on a letter it obtained.
Last year, prosecutors declined to charge Rialmo, who is White, with a criminal offense for the shooting of 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and a bystander, Bettie Jones, 55, when he responded to a domestic disturbance call in 2015. LeGrier had a baseball bat, but it is disputed where the teenager stood when the officer fired eight times—hitting LeGrier with six shots and Jones once in the chest. The police disciplinary agency’s investigation raised considerable doubt about the officer’s version of the incident.
Although the prosecutor opted not to charge Rialmo, there are multiple cases in which police departments fired cops who were cleared of criminal wrongdoing when they killed Black people.
The Cleveland Police Department, for example, fired Officer Timothy Loehmann, who gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014. His dismissal came after a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges. The department cited a false statement on Loehmann’s employment application as the reason for firing him.
In another case, the St. Anthony Police Department in Minnesota axed Officer Jeronimo Yanez after a jury acquitted him of second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in 2016. The department concluded that the “public will be best served” if he was no longer on the police force.
Rialmo has other disciplinary issues besides the shooting. Prosecutors charged him in January with two counts of battery and one count of theft involving a bar brawl in which he punched two men in the face. Officials stripped him of his police powers, and he’s now on desk duty because of the incident.
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