It’s been a crazy couple of weeks to be here in Chicago and today in the wake of the release last Tuesday of the video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has finally made the move the city has been calling for in dismissing Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The move came earlier today in a press conference with Emanuel who stated that trust in the Chicago Police Department “has been shaken and eroded.” Apparently between the shooting of seven-year-old Tyshawn Lee and the video of McDonald, McCarthy lost any hope of regaining the trust of the city he served.
Early reports said that McCarthy was “shell-shocked” by the announcement. In detailing the dismissal, Emanuel said that the two had started a conversation on the future of the CPD on Sunday and that he was informed of the firing overnight. First Deputy Supt. John Escalante was chosen to serve as acting superintendent for the time being.
McCarthy leaves behind a less-than-stellar record from his time in Chicago. After at first being praised for his handling of protestors at the 2012 NATO Summit in the city, his oversight has been charged with running black site interrogation facilities on the city’s west side, doctoring homicide statistics to drive the murder numbers down and for creating a culture within the CPD that promotes abuses. With all of that already on his resume, it’s pretty obvious the writing was on the wall for the former Newark Police chief when a contingent of black aldermen called for his resignation last week.
For his part, Van Dyke left jail yesterday after his father posted a $150,000 bond which only served to inflame the city even more. After spending six nights in protective custody at 26th and California Ave on the city’s south side, Van Dyke was escorted out by supporters. He faces a minimum of 20 years behind bars if convicted of 1st degree murder.
Time will only tell what will happen as the city continues to heal from the wounds that ugly video brought to light once again. As the U.S. District Attorney continues to investigate the case independently, it’ll be interesting to see if the pressure gets to Emanuel, who’s struggling campaign for mayor earlier this year benefitted heavily from waiting to release the video until a year after the incident.
While McCarthy’s firing doesn’t solve all of the problems, it is a start. It looks like Rahm is going to continue handing over anyone he can while trying to save his own future here in Chicago.