Update On The Laquan McDonald Shooting That Sparked Some Big Changes In Chicago & Its Police Department
Last week, the video footage of Laquan McDonald's shooting was released, and it set off some major changes within the Chicago Police Department amid ongoing protests. The public's outrage over McDonald's shooting reached a boiling point last Tuesday, when the dashcam video revealed white police officer Jason Van Dyke firing at McDonald 16 times when he did not appear to be charging at the cop. Besides the graphic content of the footage, protesters have also been furious over the fact that it took so long for police to release the video. Amid the public's frustration, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy's resignation on Tuesday. It may not be enough to quell the demonstrations, however. The day before, Van Dyke was released on $1.5 million bond.
Emanuel asked McCarthy to resign at a news conference, telling reporters at City Hall that "Superintendent McCarthy knows that a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves." He further explained, "He has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction." McCarthy, who was hired by the mayor in 2011, has come under increasing fire for resisting releasing the dashcam video of the shooting, which occurred in October 2014. Emanuel acknowledged that the department was in need of "fresh eyes and new leadership," and he announced a new task force on law enforcement accountability. The five-person commission will review how officers are trained and supervised, and will be advised by former governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, who was once a chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
The previous day, the impetus for these major shifts within the Chicago police department was set free on bail. Van Dyke walked out of Cook County jail just after 5 p.m. Monday, after his family posted 10 percent of the total bond ($150,000) required for his release, despite prosecutors' attempt to hold him on no bail. Van Dyke's attorney, Daniel Herbert, told reporters that his client was not a flight risk. The officer is due back in court for a status hearing Dec. 18.
Meanwhile, protesters have continued to gather in response to the release of the video. On Monday, during protests at the Cook County Courthouse, NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks was arrested, along with nine other protesters. Brooks told USA Today that he and the others were taken into custody, and then released after receiving citations. According to Brooks, the protest was meant to address the "culture of policing" which allowed a police officer to go "400 days without being charged."