Chicago paid $5 million to shooting victim's family, keeping them quiet and video secret while Rahm re-elected
As Chicago is convulsed over video of Officer James McDonald emptying his gun into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald with 16 shots, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is so far escaping scrutiny over the city’s successful effort to suppress the shooting as an issue in his re-election campaign. The shooting took place on October 20, 2014, and Mayor Emanuel was facing a nonpartisan election four months later, on February 24, 2015. Since no one received a majority of the vote (Emanuel received 46% to runner-up Democratic Cook County Commissioner Jesús "Chuy" García’s 34%), a run-off election was held on April 7, with Emanuel winning 55.7% of the vote and a second term.
It is rather remarkable that the shooting was not a major issue in the election. No campaigning by the family of young McDonald, no indictment, and no release of the video. Perhaps this had something to do with it, as reported by DNAinfo Chicago:
The city has already paid a $5 million settlement to the family for the shooting.
The details of the shooting threatened to become public prior to the February election, but action was taken to keep the video under wraps and the fmaily quiet. The Chicago Reporter writes:
Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release. Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.
In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van Dyke unloaded his service revolver, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.
The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.
And the city fought hard to keep the video from the public eye:
The city resisted releasing the video but last week a judge ruled that it had until Nov. 25 to release it. Attorneys for the McDonald family have called the video "graphic," "violent" and the shooting "unnecessary."
I find it fascinating that the family was not pushing for the video release. Their public rationale:
The family's attorneys said the family did not want to see it released: "What mother would want to see the execution of her son over and over?" attorney Jeffrey Neslund said. But journalists, activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois pressed the courts to make the video public.
No one would or will force the family to watch the video “over and over.” If you want to watch it, here it is:
Now, with his re-election accomplished, the mayor is coming to a judgment of Officer Van Dyke’s action before his trial:
Mayor Emanuel told reporters, "We hold our police officers to a high standard, and obviously in this case, Jason Van Dyke violated the standards of professionalism of becoming a police officer, but also basic moral standards that bind our community together."
If I were Emanuel, I would be careful about using language like “basic moral standards.”
How long will it be until the mainstream media catches on about the payoff with public money that kept the video secret, the family quiet, and the mayor re-elected?