News & Politics

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Fires Top Cop, Announces Task Force, Fails to Quell Criticism

(AP Photo/Christian K. Lee, File)

In the wake of the release of a video that showed a white officer repeatedly shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the street, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday fired Garry McCarthy, the city’s top cop.

The release of the video had inspired agitated protests just before the Thanksgiving holiday, and coincided with the news that charges would be brought against that officer, Jason Van Dyke, for the first-degree murder of a minor.

The city  ultimately settled with the family over the slaying of the teenager that occurred in October of 2014.  The McDonald family was awarded $5 million, but only well after Rahm Emanuel won re-election.

Emanuel announced the firing of McCarthy during an afternoon news conference in which he took questions that focused mostly on his own role in the controversy.

He had attempted to appease critics by announcing a task force that his administration said would “review the system of accountability, oversight and training that is currently in place for Chicago’s police officers.”

But an unimpressed Chicago Tribune sniffed that the task force is “a tried-and-true tactic elected officials long have employed to buy time and breathing room when faced with a scandal or crisis.”

If the question and answer part of his news conference is any indication, most reporters in Chicago are not impressed by the gambit either.

One reporter harangued him because he was planning to go to Paris for the climate change conference.

“Are you still going to Paris? Who’s going with you? Is it a taxpayer funded trip,” she asked.

“I haven’t made a decision yet about whether I’m going to go,” Emanuel answered.

“What about the calls for your resignation?” the reporter persisted.

Emanuel ignored that and went to another question, but that one was hostile, too.

“Political considerations played a roll in delaying the decision,” the reporter charged, referring to the delay in the settlement and suppression of the video while the mayor was “engaged in a pretty tight race.”

“Can you address those concerns?” the reporter asked.

Emanuel took the opportunity to bloviate about his ongoing efforts to gain the trust of Chicagoans.

Another reporter asked, “How do you build trust and transparency when it appears that the tape has been tampered with? Are we ever going to get to the truth on what happened to the audio on the tapes?”

“There is an ongoing U.S. Attorney, FBI investigation,” Emanuel answered. “All that is being looked at by the Justice Department.”

Next Emanuel was asked if he was becoming “a distraction.”

“Well, you’ll make that judgement,” Emanuel answered. “I think I’m doing my job and I do it every day and I do it in a professional way.”

He took a couple more questions and left the podium while reporters were still shouting out more.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-avtQmuqI7U]

It was a contentious, uncomfortable presser for Rahmbo and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.