Chicago police chief fired
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been fired, the mayor of Chicago announced Tuesday.
McCarthy has come under fire after video was released of teen Laquan McDonald being shot more than a dozen times by a white police officer.
“Public trust in the department has been eroded,” Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said in announcing the firing.
Emanuel announced the firing of McCarthy only days after the top Chicago cop insisted to reporters that the mayor had his “back.”
Protesters have been calling for McCarthy’s dismissal for days in response to the handling of the McDonald shooting. The black 17-year-old was shot 16 times by a white police officer in October 2014.
The city released police dashcam video of the shooting only after a judge ordered it to be made public. Its release last week set off several days of largely peaceful protests. Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.
The audio-free video shows McDonald walking down the middle of a four-lane street. He appears to veer away from two officers as they emerge from a vehicle, drawing their guns.
Van Dyke opens fire from close range and continues firing after McDonald crumples to the ground. Police have said McDonald was carrying a knife, and an autopsy revealed that he had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has said the 3-inch blade recovered from the scene had been folded into the handle.
Defense attorney Dan Herbert says his client feared for his life, acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story.
Van Dyke was released from jail Monday after paying the $150,000 required of his $1.5 million bail.
Prior to his arrival in Chicago as police chief in 2011, McCarthy was police director in Newark, New Jersey, after rising through the ranks of New York City’s police department.
Protesters shut down part of Michigan Avenue in Chicago Nov. 27, 2015, in protest over the shooting of Laquan McDonald.
In an interview with CBS Chicago, McCarthy said recently he was aware the whole situation — from the shooting itself to the more than year-long delay in releasing the video of the shooting — would be “trouble.”
He said he viewed the dash-cam video of the fatal shooting within a couple of days of McDonald’s death.
“It’s obviously a terrible video, and obviously a terrible tragedy. When I learned the circumstances of Mr. McDonald’s life — that he was a ward of the state at the time — and the troubles that he had had growing up, I thought that the whole thing was a tragedy,” McCarthy said.
As for his officer, McCarthy said, “I knew that it was problematic for the officer because it’s going to be hard to articulate why you fired so many rounds.”
The superintendent says he immediately stripped Van Dyke of his police powers. Legally, McCarthy said, that’s all he could do.
“I couldn’t fire him. I couldn’t put him in a ‘no pay’ status. I couldn’t discipline him. That’s the law,” he said. “It was not the Chicago Police Department investigating this incident.”
The Independent Police Review Authority was investigating the incident at the beginning, which is the normal protocol when an officer shoots a suspect. IPRA alerted federal and state investigators after reviewing the dash-cam video.
In addition to the criticism of the the timing of the video’s released, there have been accusations of police tampering in the case. A manager for the Burger King near where McDonald was shot claims Chicago police officers erased footage of the shooting.
Mayor Emanuel on Tuesday also announced the creation of the Task Force on Police Accountability. It will review oversight and training that is currently in place for Chicago’s police officers.