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Monday, June 10, 2024 | Back issues
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Police Chief Fired in Laquan McDonald Fallout

CHICAGO (CN) - Amid surging protests against the Chicago police officer who shot a black teen to death, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the city's police superintendent Tuesday morning.

In a press conference, Emanuel said Superintendent Garry McCarthy "has become an issue rather than dealing with the issue."

McCarthy's ouster comes over a year after 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's death, but just a week after Chicago acquiesced to a judge's order and released video of the shooting.

Chicago filed a murder charge against Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed McDonald, just hours ahead of the video's release.

In the year between McDonald's Oct. 20, 2014, death and the filing of charges, Chicago reached a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family and faced questions about the narrative behind the shooting.

While the city fought efforts to release video of the shooting captured by a police dashboard camera, suspicion swirled over the disappearance of surveillance footage from a Burger King near the site of the shooting.

In the dash-cam footage, McDonald appears to pose no threat to the officer or anyone else. He has a knife in his hand, but is yards away from any person, walking quickly down the middle of the street.

McCarthy has been police superintendent since 2011. Though the murder rate declined under his leadership, crime in Chicago has surged in the past year.

The superintendent often blamed Chicago's high crime rate on lax gun laws.

Just last month, however, Mayor Emanuel put the onus on the rising scrutiny of police actions.

"We have allowed our police department to get fetal and its having its direct consequence," Emanuel said in October 2015.

"What happened post-Baltimore, what happened post-Ferguson is having an impact," Emanuel said, name-dropping cities where riots erupted over police killings of unarmed black men.

McDonald died two months after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and three months after the death of Eric Garner in New York City. Freddie Gray died in Baltimore this past April.

Many see the city's shroud over the McDonald footage as having delayed the massive protests that have become part of the nationwide debate on race and policing.

The judge who ordered the video's release did so in connection to a freelance reporter's Freedom of Information Act case.

It remains unclear why Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez waited 400 days to charge Van Dyke with murder.

Some have highlighted the fierce mayoral re-election campaign Emanuel faced in spring, which forced him into the first mayoral runoff in Chicago history.

Today, Emanuel asked five city leaders to do a "top-to-bottom" review of the police department.

Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the Chicago police, was released from jail Monday afternoon on a $150,000 bond posted by his father.

This case marks the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in 35 years.

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