Cover-up alleged in police shooting of Chicago teen

It took 400 days for the dash-cam video showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke gunning down 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, firing 16 shots into the teen – most of them as he lay prostrate on the ground, to be made public.

The excuses offered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and law enforcement officials for the delay were unconvincing.  But beyond the suspicion that the mayoral election last spring played a role in the city refusing to release the recording, there is other evidence from officers at the scene as well as emails and more video that has yet to see the light of day.

Calls for the resignation of the police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, and the prosecutor in the case, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, are growing louder.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced the formation of a task force to look into police procedures and make recommendations for change, but this is clearly not enough to satisfy those protesting McDonald's death as well as the efforts by the mayor's office to cover up the rest of the story.

Chicago Tribune:

Emanuel has argued he didn't release the recording for fear of interfering with the investigation, though Judge Franklin Valderrama ruled there were no grounds for such a position. And Alvarez has maintained she was waiting for federal investigators to wrap up their own investigation, but finally decided to move forward on her own out of concern for "public safety" after Emanuel was ordered to release the shooting video.

But the slow pace of the investigation, Emanuel's refusal for months to release the video, a lack of discernible audio from police videos of the shooting and an 86-minute gap in surveillance video at a nearby Burger King at the time of the shooting have led to cover-up accusations lobbed by everyone from the city's aldermen and activists to op-ed columnists and TV commentators across the country. It's also led to a week of street demonstrations, including a highly-publicized march down Michigan Avenue on Friday that shut down many stores on the busiest shopping day of the year.

At the eye of the storm is McCarthy. The City Council Black Caucus, several Latino alderman, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Washington Post all have called for McCarthy to be fired.

"THIS TIME in Chicago, the police coverup failed," the Post's editorial begins before later turning its attention to McCarthy. "It was the police who maintained a code of silence despite at least seven other officers who witnessed the shooting at close range. That's outrageous and should lead to further criminal inquiries and the immediate firing of the city's police superintendent, Garry McCarthy."

McCarthy is toast.  The mob wants a head and the police superintendent is the logical choice to be thrown under the bus.

But this isn't McCarthy's fault.  The history of the Chicago police going back to before Al Capone's time is one of dirty, corrupt, and vicious cops, whose methods have been called into question on numerous occassions.  Not only have there been several questionable shootings over the years, but the city was successfully sued for routinely beating confessions out of suspects.  Cops have been connected to the drug trade, to the mafia (they call it "The Organization" in Chicago), kickbacks, featherbedding – the list goes on and on.

Of course, there are plenty of good cops.  But the reputation of the Chicago police tars them unfairly as well.  Emanuel's "task force" is just one more futile effort to put a Band-Aid on a broken system that is unaccountable to the people.

It took 400 days for the dash-cam video showing Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke gunning down 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, firing 16 shots into the teen – most of them as he lay prostrate on the ground, to be made public.

The excuses offered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and law enforcement officials for the delay were unconvincing.  But beyond the suspicion that the mayoral election last spring played a role in the city refusing to release the recording, there is other evidence from officers at the scene as well as emails and more video that has yet to see the light of day.

Calls for the resignation of the police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, and the prosecutor in the case, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, are growing louder.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced the formation of a task force to look into police procedures and make recommendations for change, but this is clearly not enough to satisfy those protesting McDonald's death as well as the efforts by the mayor's office to cover up the rest of the story.

Chicago Tribune:

Emanuel has argued he didn't release the recording for fear of interfering with the investigation, though Judge Franklin Valderrama ruled there were no grounds for such a position. And Alvarez has maintained she was waiting for federal investigators to wrap up their own investigation, but finally decided to move forward on her own out of concern for "public safety" after Emanuel was ordered to release the shooting video.

But the slow pace of the investigation, Emanuel's refusal for months to release the video, a lack of discernible audio from police videos of the shooting and an 86-minute gap in surveillance video at a nearby Burger King at the time of the shooting have led to cover-up accusations lobbed by everyone from the city's aldermen and activists to op-ed columnists and TV commentators across the country. It's also led to a week of street demonstrations, including a highly-publicized march down Michigan Avenue on Friday that shut down many stores on the busiest shopping day of the year.

At the eye of the storm is McCarthy. The City Council Black Caucus, several Latino alderman, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Washington Post all have called for McCarthy to be fired.

"THIS TIME in Chicago, the police coverup failed," the Post's editorial begins before later turning its attention to McCarthy. "It was the police who maintained a code of silence despite at least seven other officers who witnessed the shooting at close range. That's outrageous and should lead to further criminal inquiries and the immediate firing of the city's police superintendent, Garry McCarthy."

McCarthy is toast.  The mob wants a head and the police superintendent is the logical choice to be thrown under the bus.

But this isn't McCarthy's fault.  The history of the Chicago police going back to before Al Capone's time is one of dirty, corrupt, and vicious cops, whose methods have been called into question on numerous occassions.  Not only have there been several questionable shootings over the years, but the city was successfully sued for routinely beating confessions out of suspects.  Cops have been connected to the drug trade, to the mafia (they call it "The Organization" in Chicago), kickbacks, featherbedding – the list goes on and on.

Of course, there are plenty of good cops.  But the reputation of the Chicago police tars them unfairly as well.  Emanuel's "task force" is just one more futile effort to put a Band-Aid on a broken system that is unaccountable to the people.