A Grievous New Low: First You Shoot Them, Then You Sue Them

A Grievous New Low: First You Shoot Them, Then You Sue Them

 

Chicago pallbearers carry the body of Quintonio LeGrier. Photo and front photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters.

Because the city of Cleveland charging Tamir Rice's family for the cost of his death - $450 for ambulance services and $10 for “mileage, an act of "breathtaking callousness, insensitivity, and poor judgment (that) adds insult to homicide" -  wasn't bad enough, two white cops who killed young black men under seriously sketchy circumstances have just filed lawsuits against the cities and families who blame them, citing stress and racism. In Mississippi, former Columbus officer Canyon Boykin shot to death 26-year-old Ricky Ball last October in a case where, critics charge, police are even more than usually "making up rules as they go along."

Boykin reportedly stopped Ball's car for no tag light - a familiar indignity for black drivers - under what Boykin's lawsuit boasts is "the rigorous enforcement policy that had been mandated" in the city; he said he shot Ball after he ran and pulled a gun on Boykin. Among inconsistencies that have sparked suspicions and protests: The city released two different versions of the shooting - notes one expert, “One of these two reports is not true” - that claim Boykin did and didn't tase Ball; they newly allege Ball stole a gun from a police officer months before in a burglary only reported after Ball's death; eyewitnesses say they saw police plant a gun and bag of dope near Ball's body; and a string of police officials left the department since then without saying why. Boykin was fired for several reasons, including racist Instagram posts, but argues in his lawsuit he was wrongfully fired due to "uninformed public pressure" simply because "he is white and the deceased was black.” His lawyer argues, "This is all a race issue," and besides his client has suffered stress and lost income, so can he come back now?

In the Chicago case, white officer Robert Rialmo shot Quintonio LeGrier, a black, 19-year-old, reportedly emotionally troubled college student six times last December after LeGrier called police for help with a domestic disturbance. Rialmo also "accidentally" shot and killed LeGrier's neighbor, a 55-year-old grandmother and mother of five, also black. Rialmo said he shot LeGrier in self-defense after the youth swing a baseball bat at him; LeGrier's father Antonio said his son was nowhere near Rialmo, and after his death filed a lawsuit against the city for wrongful death, wrongful arrest, excessive use of force, and not providing prompt medical attention to his son. He reportedly asked for about $50,000. 

On Friday, Rialmo countersued, telling his version of the shooting and asking for over $10 million from LeGrier’s estate for assault and infliction of emotional distress. In his complaint, Rialmo calls Quintonio LeGrier's behavior at the time "outrageous...atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” He also whines that “forc(ing) Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier’s life,” as well as his entirely innocent neighbor's, caused him to “suffer extreme emotional trauma” which is def worth over 10 million bucks. LeGrier's family's flabbergasted attorney called Rialmo's story "a fantasy" and his lawsuit "a new low even for the Chicago Police Department," already under federal investigation for years of brutal abuses. "First you shoot them, then you sue them," he noted. He easily could have added that white cops killing troubled unarmed black kids who call them for help and then squeezing their grieving familes for money is "utterly intolerable in a civilized community."

Ricky Ball, family photo

Quintonio LeGrier, family photo

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