Chicago email release deepens Rahm Emanuel's crisis over teen shooting by police

Thousands of Chicago city government emails relating to the shooting death of LaquanMcDonald were released yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press.  They reveal extensive coordination over the handling of shocking dashcam video showing the shooting of the teen 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke. They reveal extensive efforts to coordinate the city’s response, which included delaying release of the video until months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was safely reelected.

Michael Tarm, Tammy Webber and Sophia Tareen of AP write:

The Chicago mayor's office, police and the body that investigates police shootings closely coordinated their response in the months after a white officer fatally shot a black teenager in 2014, newly released emails revealed.

The messages released Thursday clearly indicate that advisers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew within months that the case could be politically explosive.

Emanuel’s staff swung into action quickly, aware that political trouble could be ahead if the videos saw the light of day:

Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins sent a flurry of emails about media inquiries into video of the shooting. His subject line on a Dec. 10, 2014, email to fellow Emanuel staffers included the headline in one Chicago newspaper: "If Chicago police have video of teen shooting, let's see it: advocates."

Lawyers for the McDonald family evidently knew that were in a position to in essence blackmail the city into a large settlement because their agitation for release of the video could cause the mayor to lose his bid for reelection. Their silence was golden.

in a letter on March 6 — after the family's lawyers saw the video — attorney Jeffrey J. Neslund told city lawyers that the footage would reflect badly on the city.

"I submit the graphic dash cam video will have a powerful impact on any jury and the Chicago community as a whole," he wrote. "This case will undoubtedly bring a microscope of national attention to the shooting itself as well as the city's pattern, practice and procedures in rubber-stamping fatal police shootings of African Americans as 'justified.'"

He demanded $16 million. The two sides eventually settled on $5 million, a deal approved by the city council shortly after Emanuel won a second term.

The emails reveal that the so-called “independent” review body for police actions was anything but: early December 2014, Scott Ando, head of the Independent Police Review Authority — publicly touted by the mayor as uniquely independent in its probes of police shootings — singled out the case. He sent an email to the mayor's deputy chief of staff, Janey Rountree, with a link to a website that raised questions about police accounts of the shooting. (snip)

Though the Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, is supposed to maintain a distance from police and the mayor's office, a March 11 email from Ando asks about forwarding witness interview transcripts to the law department "for their use in settlement negotiations with" the McDonald family.

This scandal is just getting rolling. It has the potential to be a huge election year embarrassment for the national Democrats, damaging enthusiasm for turning out among the crucial African-American constituency that provides a quarter of the Democrats’ vote.

And interestingly, the State Department’s Hillary Clinton email release yesterday indicated how deep an interest Hillary took in her friend Rahm’s election:

"[P]ls keep me updated on all the Mayoral gossip. I can't tell yet whether Rahm will actually decide to run. So it will be a wild ride the next few months," Clinton wrote to longtime friend Betsy Ebeling in Sept. 2010.

Clinton had reached out to him while he was on vacation in Aug. 2010, just before he resigned to run for mayor of Chicago, and offered to clear her schedule if he was free for a call.

Previous email releases indicated Clinton maintained her friendship with Emanuel long after he left the White House. She has refused to join in the chorus of Democrats calling for his resignation in the wake of a Chicago police shooting scandal.

If I were Rahm,I’d be worried about the underside of a bus approaching, for Hillary needs black turnout. On the other hand, Rahm knows where quite a few Clinton skeletons are buried, possibly because he may have buried them himself.

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