Video of the murder of Laquan McDonald by a white police officer in Chicago has come back to haunt city officials.
Chicago has been in turmoil after the recent release of a video depicting white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, 16 times. Although the incident took place in October of 2014, the video wasn’t released until last week.
When the video was released, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy spoke together at a press conference urging the city to remain nonviolent. The video sparked city wide protests and national outrage.
When asked why the video wasn’t released sooner, Mayor Emanuel responded, “We have a practice, not unique to Chicago, that you don’t do anything as it relates to material evidence that would hamper, hinder, compromise an investigation.”
He added: “Yet it’s clear you all want and the public deserves that information. There are two conflicting principles.” He also happened to be in the middle of his mayoral race when the shooting occurred.
In a surprising turn of events, Rahm Emanuel fired Superintendent McCarthy on Monday. He said in a statement, “at this point and this juncture for the city, given what we’re working on, he has become an issue rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction.”
The mayor brought McCarthy to Chicago four years ago to lead the city’s police department. There has been increasing pressure on the city’s government recently to make dramatic changes. The most recent Mayoral race was one of the most contentious races in recent years. It is clear that the people of Chicago want changes, and the dismissal of McCarthy is certainly a product of that.
The city announced a task force that will look into the city’s accountability, oversight and training at the department. Rahm Emanuel said he is committed to working to build the public’s confidence in the police and in himself.
Although many see the firing of McCarthy as a step in the right direction, there is still widespread outrage over the city's handling of the shooting. Chicago City Alderman Howard B. Brookins Jr. said that he believes there was a cover up. "I do believe we were misled," he said.
"It is evident now that at the time of the settlement, the tape could have been released. It did not take 13 months to look at this tape or interview witnesses. There was no need for significant delay."
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