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Officer Had Racially-Charged Text Conversation Before Fatally Shooting Black Teen

By Mae Rice in News on Jul 15, 2016 6:47PM

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: Family, friends and supporters gather outside the home of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier during a vigil.(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Chicago Police Department's problem with the n-word continues. The deeply racially-offensive word crops up on police radio; an officer used it to describe President Barack Obama; and now, it's cropped up in a text exchange between the officer who fatally shot Quintonio LeGrier and an unidentified friend, obtained by the Tribune.

Though LeGrier's family hasn't mentioned the texts directly, they alleged for the first time on Thursday that the shooting was racially motivated, the Tribune reports. LeGrier's father filed a wrongful death lawsuit days after 19-year-old LeGrier was fatally shot; it has since been amended to claim the shooting amounted to a hate crime, and note that Rialmo thought terming black people "niggas" was funny.

The lawyer for the officer who shot LeGrier, Officer Robert Rialmo, released the texts Thursday to clarify that Rialmo did not use the word himself. Here are the texts from Dec. 16, 10 days before Rialmo fatally shot LeGrier, as published in the Tribune.

"Worked with scotty last night," Rialmo wrote to the friend, according to the records obtained by the Tribune. " was fun."

"U get any niggas," the friend asked.

"Sort of lol...long story," Rialmo replied.

Rialmo's lawyer, Joel Brodsky, told the Tribune the texts came from a long-time friend of Rialmo's who "liked to use hip-hop language." The friend's race has not been established.

Officer Rialmo fatally shot LeGrier and his neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, in West Garfield Park the day after Christmas. Jones, police admitted, was shot by accident. Rialmo, however— dispatched to the scene after a 911 call about a domestic disturbance—alleges he shot LeGrier because LeGrier was threatening him with a baseball bat and Rialmo feared for his life.

After LeGrier's father, Antonio LeGrier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the shooting, Rialmo countersued Quintonio LeGrier's estate for $10 million. Rialmo alleged that the shooting caused him "extreme emotional trauma."

Read the full Tribune story here.