Top cop in Chicago fired after protests

Top cop in Chicago fired after protests
December 03
00:00 2015
 Quovadis Green, with the organization One Chicago, calls for the removal of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with other police officials during a news conference at City Hall, Wednesday, Nov. 25,  in Chicago. This was one day after murder charges were brought against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 2014, killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, in Chicago. Emanuel fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on Tuesday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Illinois attorney general seeks U.S. inquiry

From Chronicle Wire Reports is reporting that Illinois’ top prosecutor on Tuesday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Chicago police practices violate federal law.

The request by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan comes on the same day that Chicago’s police chief was fired following the release of dash-cam video that showed an officer fatally shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald last year.

“The shocking death of Laquan McDonald is the latest tragedy in our city that highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse,” Madigan said in a statement. “Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken.”

The letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch asks the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to review police use of deadly force and police investigations into the use of deadly force, as well as police training and whether a pattern of discrimination exists.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he asked police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to step down, saying “the public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded.”

“As Mr. McCarthy knows, a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves,” Emanuel said.

The Associated Press reports that a judge on Monday set bond at $1.5 million for a white Chicago police officer charged with murder after a squad car video showed him fatally shooting McDonald 16 times, and the officer’s lawyer said he was hopeful his client could be released in the “very near future.”

Officer Jason Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of McDonald. On the same day, authorities released the dashcam video that shows McDonald – armed with a small knife and walking down a street on the city’s southwest side – being shot repeatedly by the 37-year-old Van Dyke.

The bond amount means Van Dyke will need $150,000 to be released.

Attorney Dan Herbert said the officer is pleased the judge set a bond amount after ordering him held last week without bond. He said Van Dyke is “very scared about the consequences he is facing.”

A separate judge had ordered the video released the previous week. On Tuesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she had decided a few weeks earlier to charge Van Dyke with murder and was planning to announce charges in a month. But knowing the intense public anger that the sight of the “chilling” video would generate, she announced the charges before the video’s release in an effort to encourage calm.

Herbert last week reassured the judge that Van Dyke is not a flight risk, explaining that he has deep ties to the community, lives with his wife and two children in Chicago and does not possess a passport.

In the audio-free video, McDonald can be seen walking down the middle of a four-lane street. He appears to veer away from two officers as they emerge from a vehicle, drawing their guns. One of the officers, Van Dyke, opens fire from close range. McDonald spins around and crumples to the ground. The officer continues to fire.

Police have said that McDonald was carrying a knife and an autopsy revealed that he had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system. Alvarez said last week that the 3-inch blade recovered from the scene had been folded into the handle.

Herbert maintains that his client feared for his life, acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story. He told reporters Monday that while the video alone makes it seem like the shooting wasn’t justified, he has information that others don’t have, and that Van Dyke “absolutely” can defend his actions in court.

Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo said a fund has been set up to help Van Dyke post bond, though he didn’t know how many officers have contributed or how much money has been raised.

Protesters have marched on Chicago’s streets since the video’s release. The largest and most disruptive protest blocked off part of Michigan Avenue in the downtown shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday, preventing access to big name stores on what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Phil Helsel of and Don Babwin of The Associate Press contributed to this report.

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