Chicago Police and Investigators Push Back Against Mounting Accusations of Tampering With Evidence in #LaquanMcDonald Case
The release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video has roiled Chicago and shocked the nation. And although local police say they have released all the information involving the case, some news reports state there may be additional footage.
According to The Huffington Post, the police’s pursuit of McDonald was captured on a surveillance camera from a nearby Burger King. However, police cannot explain what happened to the original recording.
Jay Darshane, district manager for several area Burger Kings including the one near where McDonald was killed, said on the night of the shooting, a group of police officers showed up and demanded access to the recording. The restaraunt workers gave them the password to the recording equipment and after spending three hours at the store, the officers left.
The next day an investigator for the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) also asked to see the tape. However, the investigator found the tape was missing more than a hour of footage.
Darshane told NBC Chicago he was shocked at the implications of what occurred.
“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.”
Attorneys representing the McDonald family also looked at the Burger King footage, but suspected it had been altered.
“Our first time down at the Burger King restaurant when we started talking to employees, watching the Burger King video, when we realized video had been deleted, or is missing, absolutely we knew something was up,” said Jeff Neslund.
However in spite of these allegations, Chicago police still insist nothing happened to the Burger King tape.
“We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video,” said an IPRA spokesperson.
Candace Gorman, an attorney representing the family of Divonte Young, a Black man shot and killed by the Chicago police in 2012, told NBC Chicago she had no faith in the IPRA’s ability to act as an independent review agency.
“Their policy is to exonerate any officer that’s involved in a shooting and the officers all know it,” she said. “They have complete impunity, and they know they will never be called on the carpet by the city of Chicago or the so-called independent investigative unit.”
Since the Chicago Police Department and the city of Chicago spent almost a year fighting the release of the McDonald video, many people don’t believe authorities are telling the whole truth about the investigation.
“In Chicago, you know, there’s very little trust between black community and police. Holding it back and holding it back now for a year in the face of demand after demand and request after request is not honesty, and it’s not transparency,” said Craig Futterman, founder of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project at the University of Chicago. Futterman was one of the people who fought for the release of the McDonald tape.
If it’s found that an officer edited the Burger King tape, he could be indicted on obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence charges. Futterman said there may be footage of an officer committing a crime.
“The officer went into the Burger King, and he erased all seven of those files,” Futterman told NPR. “The irony is, though, that the Burger King surveillance video was running while the officer erased them. And so there’s a videotape of the officer erasing the video.”