Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ousted the city’s police chief after a public outcry over the handling of the case of Laquan McDonald who was shot 16 times by a white police officer.
Emanuel announced at a news conference Tuesday morning that he has dismissed Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who only days ago insisted to reporters that the mayor had his ‘back.’
Protesters have been calling for McCarthy’s dismissal for days. He has been at the helm of the Chicago PD since May 2011.
The news comes less than 24 hours after never-before-seen screengrabs from inside a Chicago Burger King emerged showing what appears to be police officers at a computer terminal on the night of October 20, 2014, when McDonald was gunned down.
The manager of the fast-food restaurant on Pulaski Road has repeatedly claimed that Chicago police deleted 86 minutes of footage recorded by the Burger King’s outside surveillance cameras in the aftermath of the teen’s deadly shooting at the hands of white officer Jason Van Dyke.
Van Dyke, 37, was released from jail on Monday after posting bond on $1.5million bail.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has denied a cover-up, stating during a press conference last week that forensic testing showed the eatery’s computer files had not been tampered with.
The now-outgoing Police Superintendent McCarthy said there appeared to have been technical difficulties with surveillance video from the Burger King on Pulaski road after the shooting
In grainy images obtained exclusively by NBC 5, at least one officer is seen at a computer in the back office of the Burger King on Pulaski Road.
The now-outgoing Police Superintendent McCarthy said there appeared to have been technical difficulties with the surveillance video, but there was no evidence of tampering.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Mayor Emanuel praised McCarthy’s leadership of the force but called it an ‘undeniable fact’ that the public’s trust in the police had eroded.
‘Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership,’ Emanuel said. ‘Any case of excessive force or abuse of authority undermines the entire force and the trust we must build with every community in the city.’
Chief of Detectives John Escalante will oversee the police department until a permanent replacement is named.
The mayor said he wants the next chief to safeguard public safety and restore trust between the community and the police.
The mayor also announced the creation of the Task Force on Police Accountability, which will be advised by former Massachusetts Governor and Chicago native Deval Patrick and will include former director of the Illinois State Police, Hiram Grau and Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot.
The mayor told reporters McDonald’s death ‘requires more than just words.’
Among the five-person panel’s responsibilities, it will improve oversight of police misconduct, find best ways to identify and evaluate officers with repeated complaints and recommend how to release videos of police-involved incidents.
Meanwhile, questions continued to be raised about the fate of the surveillance footage from the Burger King that had undoubtedly captured evidence in the run-up to the death of the 17-year-old, who was shot 16 times by Officer Van Dyke in October 2014.
Jay Darshane, a district manager at the Pulaski Road fast-foot restaurant, has described how several detectives burst into the eatery minutes after McDonald’s shooting and demanded the password to access the surveillance footage.
While the restaurant’s cameras would not have captured the shooting, two cameras pointed toward the parking lot and drive-through lane may have captured McDonald’s movements in the critical moments before Van Dyke opened fire, according to lawyers for the McDonald’s family.
Darshane said that on the night of the shooting police officers and a member of the department’s technical support team handled the footage.
About three hours later, 86 minutes of footage recorded from 9:13 to 10:39 p.m. had been wiped from their computer, NBC 5 reported.
The shooting unfolded on October 20 at around 9:50 p.m. fewer than 100 yards from the Burger King located at 40th street and Pulaski road.
Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times – most of the shooting occurred when the teenager was lying on the ground.
Darshane first made the allegations about the police tampering with evidence while testifying before a grand jury in May of this year. He decided not to go public immediately.
Darshane told NBC 5 that both the cameras and video recorder were working properly on the night of the shooting. One of the detectives, he believes, deleted the files.
‘We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files,’ Darshane said. ‘I mean we were just trying to help the police officers.’
However, his claims have been dismissed by Superintendent McCarthy and state attorney Alvarez.
They both assert that there is no evidence to suggest that the missing footage was a result of tampering as there may have been technical difficulties.
‘We have looked at those videos and … it doesn’t appear that it’s been tampered with,’ Alvarez told reporters.
At a news conference at Police Headquarters hours later McCarthy called the allegations that officers had deleted the video ‘absolutely untrue.’
‘In no way, shape or form is there any evidence that anything was tampered with,’ he added on Tuesday.
Protesters have been calling for McCarthy’s dismissal for days in the wake of the release of the dahscam video showing Laquan McDonald’s shooting.