Rahm Emanuel says he’s sincere in his desire to reform the city of Chicago's police department and mend its relationship with citizens, especially blacks and Hispanics. But whether or not residents believe him is likely to depend on whether or not they find his past behavior credible—and that’s becoming an ever more serious problem for the mayor.
On Thursday, the Chicago Tribune published a damning report suggesting that despite Emanuel’s protestations of ignorance about the shooting of Laquan McDonald, his top staffers were aware of how the 17-year-old black youth was killed and of the videotape of his shooting by a police officer months before the mayor says he found out. And Thursday afternoon, the city released a video of a separate shooting: this one on January 7, 2013, of Cedrick Chatman, a black teenager shot by a Chicago police officer after he ran from a stolen vehicle. The city had been trying to prevent the video’s release, but on Wednesday abruptly changed course and said it would not object to making it public. A federal judge scolded Chicago’s lawyers for their lengthy obstruction followed by the city’s 11th-hour reversal. The McDonald video itself was released only after a judge’s order.
Chatman’s family has filed a wrongful-death suit against the city. Officer Kevin Fry shot at Chatman four times, hitting him twice, after the 17-year-old bolted from the car. Fry said he fired because he believed Chatman had a gun and was about to fire at his partner, Officer Lou Toth. The teen was carrying an iPhone box. The shooting was investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority, which has come under intense scrutiny in the McDonald case, with its chief forced to resign. The IPRA investigator, Lorenzo Davis, found the shooting unjustified, but his bosses overruled him and cleared Fry. Davis was fired and has sued.