The city is bracing for the release of a potentially damning video that is purported to show a white police officer shooting African-American teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times and killing him.
Mayor Emanuel spent the day meeting with faith and community leaders and public officials to get ahead of possible protests in the wake of the video's release. A judge has given the city until Wednesday to do so.
The state’s attorney has said there will be action tomorrow. Sources have confirmed to "Chicago Tonight" and other outlets that criminal charges will be brought against the officer involved in the police shooting.
The office has not officially confirmed that, but issued this statement to "Chicago Tonight" this evening:
“The State’s Attorney’s Office has been engaged in an active and ongoing criminal investigation into the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, working with our investigative partners at the federal level to conduct a comprehensive investigation. We will have more to say about the details of the case tomorrow.”
This is an investigation that has been open more than a year.
Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel has sought to get ahead of the potential fallout, today holding a meeting with community and faith leaders and members of City Council’s Black Caucus.
He said that he told them the officer’s actions were hideous, but faith leaders say they had a message of their own for the mayor.
“If this goes awry, it’s not any of the pastors’ faults,” said Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church. “If these demonstrations turn into riots, we can’t be blamed for that or responsible for a group of people that do something other than what we’re asking them to do. We’re asking people to be peaceful, responsible and focused. But it’s not our full responsibility to make sure that that happens.”
Mayor Emanuel offered his first public comment since the order of the video’s release – urging calm among city youth and community leaders.
“We’re asking people to be peaceful, responsible and focused. But it’s not our full responsibility to make sure that that happens.”
–Pastor Corey Brooks
“It was hideous. That’s what I’ve expressed to them,” Emanuel said. “They also have a role as stakeholders. Exercise your First Amendment right, do it in a focused way and responsible way.”
The video is likely to be released on Wednesday, the deadline Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama gave when ruling against the city in trying to keep the video under wraps. City Hall sources say that it is likely to be released at once to all media outlets, as opposed to simply releasing it to the reporter who filed the original lawsuit.
Meanwhile, another group of protestors featuring groups like Black Youth Project and Fearless Leaders of Youth said they declined to meet with the mayor today. They are calling for the firing not only of the officer involved in the shooting, but of police superintendent Garry McCarthy.
And they had an ominous message for those calling for calm in the wake of this video’s release.
“It shouldn’t be, ‘You don’t need to riot' – you all shouldn’t be killing us,” said Jasamine Harris of the Fearless Leaders of Youth. “You can’t be dictating how we want to express ourselves, how we want to arrange our emotions. If we want to go out and bust windows because we’re angry, because we’re enraged, let us be.”
We spoke also with the attorney for the officer who told us the video is one small part of the full context of what happened that day: McDonald was shot 16 times. The original story from the police department was that he was coming for the officer, but those that have seen the video say that that premise doesn’t hold up.
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