Chicago Mayor Fires Police Chief In Wake Of Video Release

Chicago’s top cop is out.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the news during a Tuesday afternoon news conference about Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, whom Emanuel hired shortly before his 2011 inauguration.

“I formally asked for Superintendent McCarthy’s resignation,” Emanuel said.

McCarthy, who came under fire following the release of a videotape showing a white cop shooting a black suspect 16 times, was “shell-shocked” after getting the news, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, citing sources. McCarthy and Emanuel reportedly met Monday night at City Hall and McCarthy was not fired. But Emanuel later made the decision that McCarthy had to go and phoned him to give him the news.

“Now is the time for fresh eyes and leadership,” Emanuel said at the news conference.

Emanuel named Chief of Detectives John Escalante as the interim police chief until a permanent replacement is found.

During a radio interview Tuesday morning cited by the Chicago Tribune, McCarthy gave no hint that he was out.

“How am I? I’m a little busy and a little bit stressed out, but staying the course,” McCarthy said on WGN-AM.

McCarthy was on the radio to talk about the shooting of Laquan McDonald, the black teen holding a knife who was shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Van Dyke has since been charged with first-degree murder in the incident, but the length of the probe into Van Dyke, and the timing of the video’s release that showed the shooting have been loudly criticized by black leaders and many in the press.

Emanuel has also taken heat for the way the McDonald case has played out.

“I take responsibility and none of us are above it,” Emanuel said Tuesday.

McCarthy rose through the ranks of New York City’s police department and was police director in Newark, N.J., when he was hired in Chicago. At the time he promised he would “have the cops’ backs.”

Emanuel praised him for knowing how to run a large police force and said the city needed “a leader with Garry’s depth of experience and a track record for delivering results.”

In New York, McCarthy rose from patrolman to an executive position and was involved in rescue-and-recovery efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks before taking the job in New Jersey. But his time in Newark was not without challenges or complaints.

The NAACP in New Jersey said McCarthy was more concerned about improving the safety of downtown Newark than of its neighborhoods. The American Civil Liberties Union complained that Newark police were plagued with problems from lax internal oversight to issues of excessive force during arrests.

Earlier Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is a Chicago native, was tapped to lead the new Task Force on Police Accountability, the mayor’s office announced. The former director of the Illinois State Police, Hiram Grau, will be a member, along with Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot.

The panel’s responsibilities include improving oversight of police misconduct, finding the best ways to identify and evaluate officers with repeated complaints and recommending how to release videos of police-involved incidents.

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