Expert Backs Officer In Fatal Police Shooting
COPA Conclusions Under More Fire?
An expert opinion obtained by attorneys working on behalf of the City concluded that a 2015 police shooting in which two people died was justified.
The exhaustive, 24-page opinion of Emanuel Kapelsohn of the Peregrine Corporation reignites the controversy surrounding the decision by the City’s police oversight agency, COPA, that the shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and an innocent bystander during a domestic disturbance in December 2015 was not justified.
The FOP and its rank and file condemned COPA’s ruling, claiming that Officer Robert Rialmo’s shooting of a bat-wielding assailant clearly fell within Use of Force guidelines. Another woman, Betty Jones, was struck by a stray bullet.
The conclusion of Kapelsohn:
For the reasons discussed above, it is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, that proved Officer Rialmo and Officer LaPalermo are accurately describing their perceptions of what occurred during the incident on December 26, 2015, the use of deadly force by Officer Rialmo was in keeping with generally-accepted and nationally-taught police use of force tactics, standards, and principles…Indeed, Officer Rialmo’s use of deadly force was such as other “reasonable officers at the scene” would have used under the same totality of circumstances as confronted him during this incident.
But it doesn’t end there. Kapelsohn’s opinion casts suspicion on another aspect of COPA’s investigation. After COPA ruled that the Rialmo shooting was unjustified, attorneys for the FOP filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. That request ultimately revealed that at least two outside parties had been hired by COPA in their investigation, but the hiring of these investigators and their findings were kept secret. The city also failed to turn over the findings to prosecutors as well as Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who now must decide whether Officer Rialmo should be recommended for firing.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Johnson sent a letter to COPA:
“Despite the fact that COPA informed the media of its final opinion, CPD has not received the entire file. I am requesting that COPA confirm that CPD has everything that COPA consulted or relied upon in rendering its opinion in this matter and ask that COPA provide every document that is relevant to this investigation, including but not limited to exhibits, witness interviews, videos and expert reports,” Johnson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It is only upon receipts of those materials that COPA will have complied with the ordinance and it is only then that CPD can complete a full review of this investigation.”