I-Team Report: Boys Night Out

Patrick Kelly and Mike LaPorta shown together on the left; Kelly on the right.

February 18, 2010 4:53:31 AM PST
South Side Chicago patrolman Patrick Kelly and his friend Michael LaPorta, an asphalt worker, were on a boys' night out last month. The night ended with LaPorta shot near the back of the head and in grave condition. A bullet allegedly from Kelly's police pistol is still lodged in LaPorta's brain. How it got there will influence whether LaPorta gets the medical attention he needs.

Twenty-nine-year-old LaPorta has been at Christ Hospital, surrounded by his mother, brother and other family members.

The early morning of January 12th the tragedy and the mystery began with LaPorta and his friend of more than ten years, Patrick Kelly, a Chicago police officer. They have been friends since their days at Brother Rice High School and Southern Illinois University where they were roommates.

On that Tuesday last month, the men went out for cocktails in the Beverly neighborhood. According to a bar patron, the men drank and played bags. The bar owner told the I-Team they stayed an hour and a half and left at 3:48 am.

One hour later at Kelly's home, Chicago police say the off-duty cop called 911 "to report that a male sustained a gunshot wound to the head in the officer's residence." Police then called LaPorta's parents.

"I said, 'it is bad?' He said, 'yeah, it's real bad,' and I started screaming," said Mike LaPorta, victim's father.

LaPorta, who is known as Mikey, had surgery and is mostly immobile.

According to police and paramedic reports obtained by the I-Team, on the night of the incident, Pat Kelly told responding officers "his friend shot himself in the head" allegedly with Kelly's police-issued pistol.

Off-duty Officer Kelly was described as "highly intoxicated, belligerent and very irate" and "started to storm the crew."

Kelly was arrested. Authorities considered felony battery charges but ended up filing a misdemeanor aggravated assault charge. Kelly has been temporarily relieved of his police duties while the department investigates his claim that LaPorta shot himself in the head.

"I think this was probably the best thing for him to say is that Mike tried committing suicide, with his career being on the line, thinking this is the only thing to say," said Mike LaPorta.

"Why is it no one is standing up for us, my son? It was just two people there and they are taking someone else's word, which my son can't talk right now. He can't tell his side of the story," said Patti LaPorta, victim's mother.

The LaPortas say they have not been questioned or contacted by Chicago police detectives.

Police officials told the I-Team only that "the circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation."

The I-Team made numerous attempts to contact Officer Pat Kelly at his Mt. Greenwood home where the shooting occurred. According to a court record, Kelly entered drug and alcohol treatment three days after the shooting. Meantime, his friend prepares for a different kind of rehabilitation.

Last week, LaPorta's insurance company began denying medical and rehabilitation coverage based on Kelly's statement that the injury was self-inflicted. After a strong appeal by the LaPorta's attorney, the company reversed its position pending the outcome of the investigation.

His family hasn't told him why he's in the hospital, and he can't tell them what happened that night.

"I tell him, 'Mike you're in the hospital.' I tell him, 'you have a bad bump on your head,' because I just don't want him to be scared," said Patti LaPorta.

"Why a gun ended up out. Who knows when alcohol is involved. But I strongly believe it was an accident and it wasn't an intentional shooting by Pat Kelly and it wasn't an intentional self-inflected wound," said Mike LaPorta.

Both the Police Internal Affairs Department and the Independent Police Review Authority are looking into the shooting.

The LaPortas say at first they feared Mike wouldn't survive the shot to the head. Now they say his strength and determination give them hope for recovery. Their fear is that the truth may be a casualty and leave Mike a victim again.

Click here to read the complaint

Click here to read the Police report

Click here to read Patrick Kelly's arrest file

Click here to read the Fire Dept. report