Chicago Mayor: Shooting Brought City to ‘Inflection Point’

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A look at how federal civil rights investigations work.

CHICAGO (AP) — The Justice Department has launched an investigation into racial disparities and the use of force by Chicago police, opening a city plagued for years by accusations of police brutality to broad federal scrutiny for the first time. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Monday that she’s not charging Officer George Hernandez in the shooting death of Ronald Johnson III in October 2014.A dashcam video of another 2014 fatal shooting of a black man by a Chicago police officer became public Monday, with Cook County’s top prosecutor explaining in unusual detail her reasons for not charging the officer.CHICAGO — There are only two reasons why the dashcam videos showing Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson’s death have no audio, an investigation by The Daily Beast has determined.CHICAGO — For days, officials here have faced scathing criticism for taking too long to share what they knew about the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a police officer in October 2014 as a dashboard video camera captured it all.

Built on sinking sand with the four pillars of racism, brutality, profiling and corruption holding the structure up, everything about the Chicago Police Department is now wilting under the limelight of America.Organizers estimate roughly 50 to 100 protesters are marching and rallying on Chicago’s South Side after authorities decided not to bring charges against a Chicago officer who fatally shot a 25-year-old man in 2014.A day after forcing out Scott Ando at the long-troubled agency that investigates Chicago police officers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel named a former federal prosecutor to take over amid a U.S. Monday’s announcement comes nearly two weeks after the release of a video showing white Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Justice Department probe of the police department. “I promise you I bring no agenda other than the pursuit of integrity and transparency in the work that IPRA does,” Sharon Fairley said of the Independent Police Review Authority. “This is what our Chicago police brethren deserve and what the city of Chicago citizens (deserve).” Emanuel, who last week had dismissed longtime police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, announced Ando’s resignation late Sunday. That means that nearly all of the microphones in the five squad cars on scene the night of McDonald’s death and the microphones in a car for Johnson’s death were not functioning—or the audio in both cases was removed after police reviewed the footage. At the news conference Monday, the mayor acknowledged IPRA had failed to “measure up.” In a telephone interview Monday night, Ando defended his efforts, saying Chicago’s system for disciplining cops isn’t a failure but could use some changes. Criminal investigations typically have a narrow focus, while federal civil rights investigations scrutinize the entire structure and operation of an agency and its “patterns and practices.” Among the general questions the investigation will seek to answer: Are abuses widespread or are they isolated to a few rogue officers? Not one statement of the sort had ever been made by any of them until they knew that the public was going to see what they had all known for well over a year – that a young black teenager was murdered in cold blood and that the officer who did it and another officer who was there lied in their reports and said Laquan McDonald was coming at them with a knife and about to kill them.

He also insisted on the office’s independence, a fact many have questioned. “It was and remains incredibly difficult to convince people that we are independent in spite of the fact that that’s the first word of the agency’s name,” the former U.S. Each squad car in the police department’s fleet is equipped with a microphone that records simultaneously with video, a review of technical information provided by the manufacturer of the system, Texas-based Coban Technology, shows. He said in four years with IPRA, including the past two as its head, he never once heard audio in dash-cam videos of police shootings and other incidents.

When asked if any officers were ever disciplined for not having operating audio, Ando said he was not aware of any and could not explain why that was so. “There should be the most serious discipline for any infractions as to disabling the mic, or not wearing the mic, or not turning the mic on or turning the mic off when it turns on automatically,” he told the Tribune. It is unclear if the sounds that can be heard in Van Dyke’s dashcam were picked up from a microphone or are the result of feedback as a result of the entire system being wired into the vehicle’s electrical system. These problems in Chicago go deep and have existed for so long because the law enforcement community has felt fully protected by the most powerful leaders in the city. Andrews was deputy chief of detectives in 2011 when authorities reinvestigated the 2004 death of David Koschman, who was in a fight with Daley’s nephew and died after he fell and hit his head. Other departments that have gone under the microscope include those in Cleveland; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Newark, New Jersey; Seattle, New Orleans and Ferguson, Missouri, where the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown prompted months of protests.

In addition to the microphones inside the cars—which like the cameras mounted to the dashboard begin recording as soon as the emergency lights are activated—each of the nine officers on scene that night had the ability to record audio with microphones attached to their duty belts. Alvarez said Hernandez would have been able to see a man struggle with a plainclothes officer before breaking away and fleeing on foot and could hear officers shouting for the man — Johnson — to stop and drop his weapon. The report, issued in March, found that officers routinely discriminated against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops.” And in Albuquerque, where the government focused on 23 fatal shootings by police, a report released in 2014 said investigators found a troubling pattern of excessive force. But a longtime sergeant at the department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the McDonald case and the turmoil surrounding the department, said it is essentially up to individual officers when to record with their on-person microphones, such as collecting witness statements.

Of 409 shootings investigated by IPRA since its formation in September 2007 — an average of roughly one a week —only two shootings were found to be unjustified, according to IPRA’s own statistics. Investigators will interview Chicago residents and defense attorneys, among others, and go through police records and even ride along with officers on neighborhood patrols. Unless they were broken, that is, but that should have been discovered in an inspection at the beginning of the officers’ shifts, CPD directive mandates. It’s rare for Alvarez to go to such lengths to explain why charges were not warranted, but she has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks for waiting more than a year to charge Van Dyke. That same directive, however, provides no punishment for failing to inspect equipment to make sure it is in proper working order. “… deviations from Department policy observed through the review of digitally recorded data will not be subject to the disciplinary process and will be treated as a training opportunity,” the directive states.

Those two shootings occurred in 2011 and 2012 and both took years for the agency to complete its investigations. “The city is at a crossroads today, and there can be no doubt that change is in the air, is on the horizon,” she said. “Yet the mission of IPRA will remain the same: thorough, fair and timely investigation of police officer misconduct. Before showing the dashcam video in the Johnson case, she and Assistant State’s Attorney Lynn McCarthy showed a long PowerPoint presentation that included radio communications and maps of the part of the city where the shooting happened.

The group marched from the site, chanting “Justice for Ronnieman” and “No justice, no peace.” A local Black Lives Matter organizer deemed the findings in Mr. All of that is critical to restoring the trust that is essential to providing the level of public safety that all of our communities deserve.” Fairley was a federal prosecutor in the U.S.

There were photographs of the gun she said was recovered near Johnson’s body in a grassy area of a park, and digitally magnified images of Johnson’s hand while he was running to show he was holding an object. Whether or not officers should even be blamed for broken or poorly maintained dashcam systems is a point of contention among some officers who say broken equipment is commonplace.

Attorney’s Office in Chicago for eight years and served for about eight months as first deputy and general counsel at the city’s Office of Inspector General, its internal watchdog. She also, unusually, showed a video of an unrelated shooting incident to illustrate her point that an officer could be in fear for his life from a man running away; it showed an assailant shooting an officer over his shoulder.

The attorney representing Johnson’s family countered Alvarez’s video presentation with one of his own later Monday — including parts of video and audio of a deposition that he took from Hernandez a month ago. She earned a bachelor’s in engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University, an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her law degree just nine years ago at the University of Chicago.

One element would almost certainly include court oversight, as well as independent monitors who would report back to the judge on whether police are complying with the orders. Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents Johnson’s mother, Dorothy Holmes, dismissed Alvarez’s presentation as an “infomercial,” said a witness was coerced into false testimony and said the investigation Alvarez relied on was incomplete and didn’t include comments from key witnesses — including Hernandez himself. The majority of the investigations end with court-enforceable agreements between the federal government and the community that serve as blueprints for change. The audio Oppenheimer presented of what he said was Hernandez’s deposition had the officer saying that he wasn’t concerned about charges being filed against him. He adds that city officials need to ask if existing policies on deadly force are the right ones and if the training provided to officers in life or death situations is sufficient.

Alvarez’s lengthy news conference on the case as an “infomercial.” And he called the authorities’ handling of the case “a cover-up from the beginning.” The video shows officers with guns drawn chasing Mr. Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said in an emailed statement Monday evening that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office reviewed “all statements” made by Hernandez, including in his deposition. I have personally, and repeatedly, notified a (sergeant) to obtain a ticket number with no results,” an officer wrote. “I don’t understand the laziness.” The directive that stipulates how and when audio and video are to be used appears to be entirely broken to the point of non-existence. Alvarez concluded that no charges were warranted, meaning Fairley will now oversee IPRA’s review of the officer’s conduct and whether any disciplinary action should be taken against him. Johnson was holding a gun in his hand, and the police reported immediately after the shooting that they had found a Browning 9-millimeter pistol with a 21-round magazine in his right hand.

McDonald was shot to death by the police in a different neighborhood, on the Southwest Side. “I’m not going to stop until I get what I want for him, and that’s justice,” Ms. The Obama administration, buffeted by nationwide unrest over police conduct, has opened about two dozen investigations into law enforcement agencies, including in Baltimore and Los Angeles. The lack of audio in the video showing the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald raised questions about whether officers might have switched audio off intentionally to conceal their actions. McDonald was carrying a three-inch knife, and Officer Van Dyke said he feared for his safety. “Building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve is one of my highest priorities as attorney general,” Ms.

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