CHICAGO (STMW) - The father of a 19-year-old man who was shot and killed by Chicago Police early Saturday has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, claiming college student Quintonio LeGrier posed no threat to the police officer who shot him, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
LeGrier, a sophomore at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, was “20 or 30 feet” away from the police officer who shot the teen inside a West Garfield Park home, attorney Basileios “Bill” Foutris told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday. A neighbor, 55-year-old mother of five Bettie Jones, also was fatally wounded by police.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of LeGrier’s father, Antonio LeGrier, whose 911 call early Saturday brought police to the home in the 4700 block of West Erie Street.
“Quintonio was inside the building when he was shot, and the officer was 20, 30 feet away and outside the building,” Foutris said.
Police scanner traffic indicated Quintonio LeGrier had a baseball bat, but Foutris said even having a bat wouldn’t have justified the shooting.
“There was no way he was posing a threat to the officer. He didn’t have a gun. He didn’t have a knife,” Foutris said. “He certainly didn’t have any kind of a weapon that could have presented a threat to an officer who was 20, 30 feet away.”
Lawyers for Jones’ family said they had not yet filed a lawsuit. They said they are still seeking information on what happened, including the identity of the officer, his account of what happened and recordings of 911 calls.
“We’re letting the family grieve” right now, said attorney Larry Rogers Jr.
“It appears to be clearly a wrongful death situation where an officer fires into a house when it could be expected there would be occupants inside,” Rogers said. “It’s not that different from a drive-by shooting. I don’t understand that kind of reckless action by a police officer.”
The Jones family’s lawyers said that both Jones and Quintonio LeGrier were inside the house when they were shot, and that shell casings from the officer’s gun were found outside the home near the sidewalk.
“Every indication we have is that she was asked by the upstairs tenant to open the door for the police,” said Sam Adam Jr., another attorney for Jones’ family. “The bell rang and she opened the door and she ended up dead.
“I honestly think what happened here is you’re getting police officers who aren’t trained to deal with domestic violence and mental health,” he said. “They’re walking into harrowing situations, there’s no doubt, but they’re coming out with guns blazing.”
Adam said Jones was a mother of five and grandmother of six. She had worked as a crossing guard and participated in anti-violence marches in the neighborhood. “It sends a terrible message,” he said. “This is a woman who was trying to assist the police.”
Foutris said two officers were at the scene, and only one fired his weapon. Antonio LeGrier told reporters his son was shot seven times. The Cook County medical examiner’s office has not released an autopsy report.
Antonio LeGrier’s lawsuit, filed Monday, also claims that “video recordings of at least a portion of the events” surrounding the death of Quintonio LeGrier exist and have been confiscated by the city.
Antonio LeGrier was awakened early Saturday by a “loud banging” on his bedroom door, Foutris said, as if someone was driving a shoulder into the door. Antonio LeGrier knew it was his son banging on the door when he called police, but he was not threatened by Quintonio, Foutris said.
“This was not a situation where [Quintonio] was kicking the door down. [Antonio] was asleep in his room and hears three bangs on the bedroom door,” Foutris said. “He did not think his son was going to harm him. He thought his son was angry and he was looking for some help to defuse the situation. . . . He certainly didn’t call to have his son shot and killed.”
The lawsuit also alleges that police falsely arrested Antonio LeGrier, detaining him at the scene and taking him away to be questioned at a police station for several hours.
“He’s at the police station, being treated like a criminal, while his son is dying,” Foutris said.
At the station, Antonio LeGrier was not allowed to leave, the lawsuit claims, until he gave statements to detectives and to investigators from the Independent Police Review Authority.
The fatal shootings were the first by a Chicago Police officer since the city released a dashcam video last month of the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old who was shot 16 times by a white police officer. McDonald’s mother and younger sister received a $5 million payout from the city in April to head off a wrongful death suit against the city, and Jason Van Dyke, the veteran officer who shot McDonald, has been charged with murder.
Antonio LeGrier’s lawsuit specifies only that he is seeking more than $50,000 in compensation. Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey declined to comment.
“This isn’t about money,” Foutris said. “This is about finding out what happened and getting justice for Quintonio.”