Today, a week after officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder in the death of teenager Laquan McDonald, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Emanuel’s decision, right as it may be, hardly calls for any sort of applause.
McCarthy, who as superintendent leads the city’s police force, was certainly at fault for not only the actions of Van Dyke, but also for the police’s attempts at covering up the killing. It has been widely reported that CPD officers were seen inside a Burger King adjacent to the McDonald crime scene where security footage spanning the time of McDonald’s death was mysteriously deleted. Last night, leaked security camera footage from inside the Burger King appeared to show CPD personnel at a computer terminal.
This morning, McCarthy also publicly apologized for his department’s initial press release about McDonald’s death, in which CPD erroneously claimed that McDonald walked towards officers on the scene and lunged at them with a knife. None of that is supported by the dashcam footage, which shows McDonald walking parallel to the officers before being gunned down and repeatedly shot by Van Dyke.
But as an op-ed published last night in the New York Times argues, Emanuel and the city’s top prosecutor Anita Alvarez went to great lengths to suppress the release of the dashcam video. The city vigorously argued in court against the release of the video, and didn’t approve the $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family until after Emanuel’s narrow victory in a run-off mayoral election.
[There was a video here]
In a press conference this afternoon, Emanuel justified McCarthy’s dismissal by saying that McDonald’s death “requires more than words of sadness, it requires that we act,” a sentiment that would probably come as a surprise to the city’s lawyers who spent the better part of a year working, on Emanuel’s behalf, to prevent any action at all.