Chicago Top Cop: Fire LaQuan McDonald Officers
Chicago’s police superintendent recommended that seven police officers be fired for the filing of false reports after the shooting death of LaQuan McDonald in 2014.
Supt. Eddie Johnson issued an e-mail on Thursday recommending the termination and suspending the officers of their police powers, the Chicago Tribune reported. The recommendation comes a week after Chicago police Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s report on the incident in which he recommended that 10 officers involved with the shooting be fired.
Johnson felt that evidence against one of the officers was not sufficient for recommending a termination and two others have retired since the shooting.
“While I know that this type of action can come with many questions and varying opinions, please know that these decisions were not made lightly,” Johnson wrote in his e-mail. “Each of these decisions was based on a methodical and substantive review of the facts by both internal and external counsel. Each officer will have their right to due process.”
The release last year of official police reports that directly contradicted video evidence of McDonald’s shooting by a white police officer turned a spotlight on longstanding concerns about a “code of silence” in Chicago’s police force, in which officers stay quiet about or conceal possible misconduct by colleagues.
Johnson’s decision stems from a scene that unfolded on dashcam video taken in October 2014 in which Officer Jason Van Dyke can be seen firing 16 times at McDonald, including when McDonald was on the ground.
The recommendation will go before the city’s police board, which will make the final decision on whether the officers should be fired. The process typically takes about seven months, so any decision to fire the officers is not likely until next year.
Johnson became the superintendent after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Superintendent Garry McCarthy because of the McDonald shooting video and his recommendation marks the single biggest decision he has made for a department long dogged by suspicions that it condones or covers up the brutality and misconduct of its officers.
Community activists praised Johnson’s announcement, saying the rare move shows he is serious about overhauling the department’s practices.
“I think Eddie Johnson gets it. He gets the crisis that we are in and how to solve it,” said Jedidiah Brown, a leader of a group called Chicago Life, which has participated in protests against the police.
Image: Associated Press