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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Fires Supt. McCarthy, But He Could Be First of Several High-Profile Heads to Roll in Chicago

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has been fired. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has been fired. (Chicago Sun-Times)

The fallout from the Laquan McDonald video has claimed its first high-level casualty. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

The Sun-Times reported that McCarthy was called into City Hall on Monday and when he left he still had a job. But Emanuel had a change of mind and called McCarthy on Tuesday to tell him his employment had been terminated. According to CBSChicago, Emanuel asked McCarthy to resign because the public no longer had faith in the Chicago Police Department.

Sources say the backlash over the McDonald video and the execution of Tyshawn Lee, a boy killed because of his father’s gang ties, proved too much for Emanuel. McCarthy, a former high-ranking officer with the New York Police Department and Newark, N.J. police chief, was reportedly “shell shocked” by the decision.

Apparently, Emanuel was being besieged from all corners about McCarthy. Editorials in The Washington Post and The Sun-Times had called for McCarthy’s head, and he had been criticized by almost all of the Black elected officials in Chicago. Black politicians have been demanding McCarthy step down for a while, with the city council’s Black Caucus calling for McCarthy to resign after a bloody weekend in October.

McCarthy had also courted controversy because he seemed to be reluctant to terminate Officer Dante Servin, who fired into a group at a park killing Rekia Boyd. McCarthy said Servin, who was found not guilty of manslaughter, should have never been indicted because he “hit the individual who he was aiming at” and “also happened to hit” Boyd.

McCarthy is gone, but he may not be the only high-profile casualty to lose their job in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. In a damning New York Times editorial titled “Cover-up in Chicago” it’s suggested that several other high-ranking officials need to take responsibility for the fact that the city sat on the Laquan McDonald video for more than a year and also let Officer Van Dyke, currently a first-degree murder suspect, remain free for a year while still drawing a paycheck. The piece also implied that Emanuel deliberately suppressed the McDonald tape because he wanted to win a tight election.

“The video of a police shooting like this in Chicago could have buried Mr. Emanuel’s chances for re-election. And it would likely have ended the career of the police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy,” said The Times. “And so the wheels of justice virtually ground to a halt. Mayor Emanuel refused to make the dash-cam video public, going to court to prevent its release.”

According to The Times, a week after he was reelected Emanuel approved a $5 million settlement with the family of Laquan McDonald. City lawyers included a clause in the settlement that kept the video confidential. The video would have never came to light if had not been for the determined efforts of independent journalist Brandon Smith, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request back in August. Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama finally ordered the tape’s release in November.

The editorial also called for an independent investigation of the McDonald shooting and said Chicago residents had lost trust in their political and judicial institutions.

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