George Floyd

Latest Updates: Officer Rialmo Employment, Police in CPS, CPD Lawsuit

Here's the latest from across the city and suburbs

Calls for racial justice continue in Chicago Tuesday as activists bring to light new concerns, particularly following the many arrests made during protests and unrest in the city earlier this month.

Plus, the debate over police in schools has Chicago Public Schools' top leadership weighing in.

Here's the latest from across the city and suburbs:

Lawsuit Claims People in CPD Custody Denied Access to Counsel and Phones

A lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges the Chicago Police Department has used the coronavirus pandemic and recent protests as “cover” to deny criminal suspects their legal right to speak with attorneys.

The lawsuit filed by the Cook County Public Defender's Office and activists from Black Lives Matter Chicago and other groups says police often refuse to tell attorneys where their clients are being held and frequently violate a state law allowing suspects to contact attorneys within an hour after being taken into custody.

A survey of defendants showed that over a two-month period since the pandemic hit, about a quarter of the defendants reported they had to wait at least five hours to make a call, according to the lawsuit. Another quarter of the defendants reported they were never allowed to make a call while in custody at a Chicago police station.

The police department has “denied and continues to deny arrestees legal representation and telephone access, using the COVID-19 pandemic and recent community protests as cover for their unlawful conduct," the lawsuit alleges.

Public Defender Amy Campanelli said in the lawsuit that after her office moved to allow attorneys to talk to clients over the phone instead of in-person visits in an effort to protect the health of both the attorneys and others, the police department subsequently refused to set up a place where defendants and the attorneys could talk privately on the phone.

Further, at the same time attorneys were being told they could not allow them to speak to the attorneys by phone, the police department's general counsel notified Campanelli's office that her attorneys would “have to come to the stations in person in order to meet with clients, regardless of the health risks involved," according to the lawsuit.

The city's law department declined to comment, saying it was reviewing the lawsuit, and the police department said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Vote Expected on CPD Officers in Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said Monday that the decision on whether to keep school resource officers in public schools in the city will be made by local school councils.

"I definitely understand the need for change," Jackson said. "I share in that call for change. We've been involved in that and we have to improve our program."

Jackson said the district has spoken with students, staff and parents about their views on officers in schools and plans to provide councils will information on all sides.

"Our job is to make sure that they fully understand and appreciate the role of SROs in our schools," she said, noting that the district will not overturn any decisions by a school council.

Jackson noted, however, that while many staff members have voiced support for the officers, she has also heard "legitimate" concerns from students who feel police presence in schools makes them feel like criminals.

"This is not just about physical safety it's about psychological safety," she said.

Chicago's School Board is set to vote Wednesday on whether to end the contract with the Chicago Police Department. The board has the authority to make the decision without the approval of CPS or the mayor, who opposed the effort. It's not clear if the board will have enough votes to end the contract.

Nearly 200 officers are stationed at schools across the city.

"The key message here is to be responsible. We cannot be reckless. These decisions are life or death decisions that we are making," Jackson said.

Ministers Call on Lightfoot to Ban Former Police Officer Officer Rialmo

A group of South and West side pastors prayed outside Chicago City Hall on Tuesday before asking Mayor Lori Lightfoot to keep disgraced former cop Robert Rialmo from ever being hired again by the city.

“It’s outrageous that Robert Rialmo thinks it’s his birthright to work for the city of Chicago,” said David Cherry, president of the Leaders Network.

The group on Tuesday hand-delivered a letter signed by 32 religious and civic leaders demanding that Rialmo be placed on the city’s “no-hire” list.

Rialmo was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 2019, four years after he fatally shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and his downstairs neighbor Bettie Jones following a controversial domestic call.

Rialmo has since been involved in a number of incidents including bar fights.

The former marine is suing the city to get his job back, but his attorney has stated that his client would accept a fire department position instead.

The Rev. Marshall Hatch compared Rialmo to Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murder after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd.

“If Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis is a criminal, then Robert Rialmo is a criminal times two,” Hatch said.

A mayoral representative accepted the pastors’ letter outside her City Hall office telling the group, “the Mayor respects your wisdom on this and feels the same.”

Two weeks ago, when asked about the possibility of rehiring Rialmo, Lightfoot called him a coward who “has no place among the honorable men and women who wear the badge of the Chicago Police Department.”

The city of Chicago settled with the family of Bettie Jones for $16 million.

LeGrier’s family lost its civil suit on a technicality.

The pastors say Rialmo has not only hurt the city financially, but he has also done irreparable harm to the department’s relationship with their communities

Rialmo’s attorney has not responded to NBC Chicago’s calls for comment.

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