FOIA docs show Rahm's top aides knew of Laquan McDonald police shooting video long before election

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel likely would not have been re-elected had the public seen the shocking video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke.  It took a court order to release it, long after the election.

As demands for Emanuel’s resignation are heard, the mayor’s defense has been that he didn’t know about the video.  But a Freedom of Information Act request has now revealed that his top aides were well aware of the video long before he says he knew about it.  NBC Chicago reports:

On Jan. 20, 2015, in the heat of his re-election campaign, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to hire 350 new police officers and begin a pilot plan for police to use body cameras. “And too many of our kids are growing up with a sense where violence becomes a norm,” Emanuel said in what was billed as a major speech.

That same afternoon, at 4:30, Thomas Platt, a deputy corporation counsel sent his boss Steve Patton an email with the subject line reading: Fatal Shooting on video, 4000 South Pulaski.

The body of that email was blacked out by the city.  But:

… that wasn’t the first email involving the mayor’s chief of staff and the possibility of police dash camera video showing LaQuan McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke.

On December 9, 2014 Schrader distributed a Crain’s Chicago Business article in which questions were raised about video of the McDonald shooting.

The headline on the article read: “If Chicago police have video of teen shooting, let’s see it: advocates.”

Schrader distributed the article to some of the mayor’s other senior advisors, including spokeswoman Kelley Quinn, senior aide David Spiefogel, and Matt Hynes, a former top political strategist for the mayor who had since left City Hall.

Emanuel has been evasive, to say the least, about when he actually knew the video existed that posed a threat to his re-election:

The mayor's office issued the following statement in response to the report: "As we have said, the Mayor's office staff was aware of the McDonald case -- and the federal and state criminal investigations that had been launched -- and was following a policy that had been in place for years by not releasing video evidence during a criminal investigation. The Mayor has been clear that this longstanding policy needs to be revised, and has asked that the task force review this policy and make recommendations for a new path forward." (snip)

 Last week on Chicago Tonight Emanuel was asked who first told him about the LaQuan McDonald video?

 “I don’t know who briefed me first about the video,” he said, adding, “The first person that kind of gave me the description of it was Corporation Counsel Steve Patton."

Asked the next day about when he first learned of the McDonald case and who informed him, the mayor responded, “Probably read it in the paper. Uhm and some of the staff, uhm could have informed me.”

If you experience technical problems, please write to