CHICAGO (CN) – A former Chicago Police detective should not get his job bac after being fired for posing in a photograph kneeling over a black man as though he were a hunting trophy, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
Timothy McDermott appealed a ruling from Cook County Judge Thomas Allen, who upheld the Chicago Police Board’s decision to fire him in 2015.
The bizarre and unsettling photo depicts McDermott and another officer, Jerome Finnigan, standing over a black man brandishing rifles and holding deer antlers over the man’s head.
The man in the picture is unidentified in court documents. He is shown in the photograph sticking out his tongue while McDermott’s hand is on his throat.
The picture’s origins are not clear, other than being taken sometime between October 1999 and July 2003.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office gave the photo to the Chicago Police Department in 2013, while investigating Finnigan and other officers who were accused of robberies and home invasions.
Finnigan is serving 12 years in federal prison for corruption.
McDermott claimed in his appeal that the Chicago Police Board did not allow him to present relevant evidence, and that the decision to fire him was overkill.
Illinois Appellate Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke strongly disagreed in the unanimous 17-page ruling on July 8, and found the Police Board’s decision well-founded.
Burke agreed with the board’s finding that the picture was “disgraceful and shock[ed] the conscience,” as it showed the man “not as a human being but as a hunted animal.”
“We respect the court’s decision,” McDermott’s attorney Daniel Herbert told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is a chilling example of how a dedicated and accomplished career can be brought down by a 10-second decision made more than a decade earlier.”
McDermott had been a police officer for 17 years, and according to court documents had received 74 awards and 11 department commendations for his work.
But the picture was too much for the Chicago PD.
“In this case, the Board found that plaintiff violated three of the Department’s rules, which it determined was sufficient basis to discharge him from his employment,” Burke wrote. “This court has found that an officer’s violation of a single rule has long been held to be a sufficient basis for termination.”
Justices Jesse Reyes and Bertina Lampkin concurred.
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