Justice

Chicago Police Superintendent Fired Over Handling Of Laquan McDonald Shooting

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speak at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 20, 2014, death of Laquan McDonald.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) fired Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Tuesday, after days of protesting over the city’s handling of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

McCarthy was “shell-shocked” by the decision, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Massive protests have stretched on for nearly a week, calling for the ousting of the city’s top leaders, including McCarthy and Emanuel himself. Upon releasing the video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald, Emanuel tried to tamp down accusations of conspiracy by higher-ups to conceal the true circumstances of McDonald’s death. The mayor initially pinned the responsibility on Officer Jason Van Dyke alone. “One individual needs to be held accountable,” he said, and then “we can go as a city and begin the process of healing.”

But a week later, Emanuel indicated that the scrutiny over the police department’s abuses and corruption forced his hand. “Our goal…is to build the trust and confidence with the public,” he said at a press conference Tuesday. McCarthy, in turn, “has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction,” he said.

After a judge ordered the city to release a video of Van Dyke shooting the black teenager 16 times, McCarthy, Emanuel, and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez rushed to mitigate the damage by bringing first degree murder charges against Van Dyke and belatedly firing another officer who shot and killed Rekia Boyd.

That officer, Dante Servin, was acquitted because the judge claimed the involuntary manslaughter charges were not strong enough. McCarthy previously objected to the criminal charges against Servin, arguing it would make other officers hesitant to do their jobs, but announced last week that Servin would be fired because he showed “incredibly poor judgment” in opening fire on a group of people standing in an alleyway.

McCarthy recently signed on to a coalition of law enforcement leaders advocating for sentencing reforms. But under his watch, Chicago police have killed more people than any other similarly sized department in the country, with nearly no disciplinary action. In fact, Van Dyke had 18 complaints against him before he shot McDonald, yet had never been disciplined before.

Emanuel has also announced a police task force and an expansion of the body camera program this week. But at the press conference, he again defended the city’s lengthy battle to keep the video secret, claiming there were concerns that it would impede the investigation.