Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy has been fired a year after teenager Laquan McDonald was shot to death by a police officer.
A dashcam video detailing the October 2014 shooting of McDonald was released last week, sparking outrage among the citizens of Chicago. Protesters called for the resignation of many city officials to answer for the death of Laquan.
In response to the turmoil over how Laquan was killed, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked for the resignation of the Chicago Police Superintendent, as CNNreported.
The Chicago mayor noted that, over the past four and a half years that McCarthy served as superintendent his work “has led to the lowest overall crime rate on record.” Despite this success, however, Emanuel pointed out that there is still more progress to be made when it comes to police brutality, especially after the unnecessary death of Laquan.
“The use of excessive force and misuse of authority is not new in Chicago or isolated only to Chicago…For whatever progress we have made, the killing of Laquan McDonald is a vivid reminder that we have much more work to do.”
Jim Bueermann, a former California police chief and president of the Police Foundation, believes that when it comes to the McDonald case, McCarthy’s resignation was more about blaming someone for the death of McDonald and less about cracking down on abuse of power.
“I think the role that the police chief often plays in these major cities is that of a scapegoat…somebody’s going to be held accountable.”
This need to point fingers is the city officials’ response to public unrest over the way the Chicago police department mishandled the McDonald case.
The public outrage that led to McCarthy’s resignation started last week when a graphic video of a Chicago police officer shooting McDonald was released to the public. The video was taken from the dashboard camera of a squad car which was responding to a 911 call about Laquan wielding a knife and breaking into cars. Prosecutors say that McDonald had just slashed the tire of a squad car, and had PCP in his system at the time, as reported by the Inquisitr.
The officer who opened fire on Laquan, Jason Van Dyke, shot the teen 16 times as he tried to walk away from authorities on the scene. Van Dyke turned himself in to prosecutors last week on the same day the dashcam video of him shooting McDonald was released.
Activists have taken to the streets of Chicago to protest the way the city conducted the investigation of the McDonald shooting. Protesters have promised to stay there for 16 days to signify the amount of times Laquan was shot. The unrest stems from the appalling number of shots fired into Laquan, the fact that the video of his death was not released until over a year after it took place, and how the Chicago police department attempted to cover up the incident.
According to initial reports given by officers on the scene of the shooting, Laquan had lunged at an officer with the knife in his hand, prompting the officer to open fire on the teen. However, it is evident from the video that this account was false, as McDonald is clearly seen walking away from authorities. According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been no comment so far from any Chicago police spokesmen about this initial statement.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez defended the excessive time her office took in charging Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald, saying that she had been waiting on a pending federal investigation into the incident. She attributed the delayed release of the dashcam video to this also. The video capturing how Laquan was killed was only released after a journalist sued the city and a judge ordered it to be released to the public.
When Alvarez’s office finally decided to go through with the charges, she charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder for shooting McDonald. On Tuesday, a judge set bail of $1.5 million dollars for the officer.
Van Dyke will return to court on December 18 to answer for the murder of Laquan McDonald.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)