Lawyer: Don’t judge Chicago officer based on shooting video

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Attorney for Chicago officer who shot teen urges public not to rush to judgment based on video.

An attorney for a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times says his client acted lawfully and urges the public not to rush to judgment based solely on a video of the shooting that’s to be released within days. CHICAGO — A judge’s order for the Chicago Police Department to publicly release a video showing a fatal police shooting by Wednesday has raised concerns about what could happen when people get to see the incident for themselves.Behind the scenes, officials are meeting to determine the timing of the release of the police dash-cam footage and putting plans in place in deal with the public’s reaction.

Attorney Dan Herbert told reporters Friday that Officer Jason Van Dyke is — in his words — “scared to death.” Herbert says the officer is concerned about the safety of his wife and two school-age children in the event the video prompts violence. The death of black suspects at the hands of police triggered violent demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and New York, but Chicago managed to escape such trouble. Within hours of the ruling, city officials first requested a stay of the decision pending an appeal, then reversed course, saying it would release the video before Thanksgiving. That could change now that a Cook County judge has ordered the city to release the McDonald video by Nov. 25, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel reversed course and vowed to comply. The potentially inflammatory video, showing the teen’s violent death, comes as protesters in cities and on college campuses across the country continue to demand an end to racially biased policies and policing.

A police source said hundreds of plainclothes tactical and gang officers were ordered to wear their uniforms after the Paris attacks to “ease people’s minds,” but authorities have not received tips about a terror threat to Chicago. But a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office hours after the judge’s ruling indicated there will be no appeal and that the video would be released to the public by Wednesday at the latest, as Valderrama ordered. “Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law, and to provide safety to our residents,” the statement said. “In this case unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level.” An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot 16 times, including at least twice in his back. It also came as tensions were still high in Ferguson, Missouri, where in August 2014 a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, another unarmed black man.

As a result, the city’s Independent Police Review Authority promptly sent this case and the evidence to state and federal prosecutors who have been investigating it for almost a year.” Emanuel said earlier this week that should give federal and Cook County prosecutors “time to expeditiously bring their investigation to a conclusion so Chicago can begin to heal.” Meanwhile, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is facing a primary challenge. Garry McCarthy, who won praise handling protests during the 2012 NATO Summit, huddled with top deputies and Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo Friday to refine the city’s strategy for dealing with demonstrators.

Officers had trailed McDonald after receiving calls about a man wielding a knife and at one point the teen slashed a front tire of a squad car, police said. McCarthy also sent a message to his troops Friday saying he’s confident they will remain professional “during situations that may test your fortitude.” “I have the utmost confidence that our members will serve as the calming force which our communities need and expect. There are fears the footage could spark unrest similar to that in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, that sometimes grew violent, after other police-involved deaths of black men. But on Thursday, Valderrama said the department did not have the legal right to withhold the video because other agencies including the FBI are the ones investigating, not Chicago police.

Van Dyke, who has been the subject of 18 civilian complaints for allegations including misconduct and excessive force, has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty. Of particular concern, sources said, are officers assigned to work in one-man squad cars, officers on bike and foot patrol in South and West Side neighborhoods plagued by gang violence, and officers assigned to stand alone on fixed posts with no partner and no car. The Chicago City Council took the unusual step in April of approving a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, even though the family hadn’t filed a lawsuit, after being advised to do so by a city attorney who had seen the video. The upcoming holidays have made their burden even heavier, Williams said in a phone interview. “It’s the holiday season, depression is kicking in. Former federal prosecutor Phil Turner said Van Dyke could be charged with violating McDonald’s civil rights — a charge that, because the teen died, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

And then nobody from the city of Chicago, elected officials or even pastors, want to sit down with you because they’re scared to be seen as supporting you. No matter when the video is released, Angelo wondered how Van Dyke can get a fair trial if he is charged. “The superintendent and I don’t agree on everything. Marshall Hatch, a prominent minister on the city’s West Side, said residents are angered by the department’s attempt to keep the public from seeing the video. But since then, some have questioned the way police have dealt with protest groups, including whether they have infiltrated such groups or used high-tech equipment to monitor protesters and make it more difficult for them to communicate with each other.

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