One Year Later: Obama’s DOJ to Start Probe into Chicago PD over Death of Laquan McDonald

AP Photo/Paul Beaty
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
Chicago, IL

After more than a week of protesters flooding the streets of Chicago over the death of an African-American teen shot by a city police officer over a year ago, the Department of Justice is poised to finally launch a probe into the actions surrounding the shooting.

Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday that Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch will launch a Civil Rights Division investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s actions during the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The teen was shot sixteen times by officer Jason Van Dyke.

Lynch is reportedly launching what is called a “pattern or practice” investigation to determine if a policy or the culture in the CPD tends to result in racist or illegal outcomes.

Several politicians, both local and national, have called for the Justice Department to launch an investigation, including Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Sen. Dick Durbin. The calls were made after police dashcam video of the incident was released a full year after the shooting.

After the dashcam video of the incident emerged—video that the city held back for over a year—local Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez indicted the Chicago police officer who shot the teen. But the shooting itself was deemed justified by the city back in December of 2014.

Despite that determination, though, this year, the Chicago City Council approved a $5 million payout to the absentee mother of the dead teenager, a payment that some labeled “hush money.”

After a week of street protests, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ultimately fired his top cop, Garry McCarthy, despite spending the previous week claiming that he had full confidence in his police superintendent.

But protesters were unsatisfied with the firing of McCarthy and have been making further demands that Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez join McCarthy on the way out the door. For his part, Emanuel has steadfastly refused to quit, saying that his re-election only 8 months ago was the final word on his status as mayor.

Emanuel has also rebuked those claiming that the release of the video was delayed for a year in order to smooth his re-election campaign. In February, Emanuel was forced into the first runoff election in city history, and many feel that if this video was out in public at that time, he would not have won his re-election campaign.

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