Facing Tough Questions On Police Accountability, Mayor Emanuel Promises Changes

CHICAGO (CBS) — At a packed news conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to make major changes in the Chicago Police Department, and not wait for federal investigators to do it.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Mayor Emanuel sounded notes of transparency and reform as he talked about the federal civil rights investigation of the police department.

“We are going to welcome this investigation,” Emanuel said. “We are going to cooperate with it and it’s in our long-term interest.”

And the task ahead of new Independent Police Review Authority Sharon Fairley.

“None of the things we’ve done in the past have measured up to the scope, the scale and the consequences of what needs to be done,” Emanuel said.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Emanuel and Fairley were joined at the press conference by acting Police Superintendent John Escalante, who was head of the detective bureau which issued a final investigative report clearing Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed Laquan McDonald.

“The recovered in-car camera video was viewed and found to be consistent with the accounts of the witnesses. This case is now cleared. Van Dyke’s use of deadly force was within bounds of CPD guidelines.”

Yet the accounts of those witnesses, the officers’ accounts said McDonald:

  • “continued to advance…”
  • “attacking Van Dyke with a knife attempting to kill (him)…”
  • “continued to wave the knife…”
  • ”…raised his right hand to Can Dyke as if attacking…”

None of which is seen in the video. Van Dyke was cleared just days before the city agreed to pay his family $5 million.

When asked by Levine about the report clearing Van Dyke, Escalante responded, “Without trying to pass the buck, I understand your question. There actually was never anything for me to sign off on but we’re changing that so that there will be as we move forward.”

When pressed further, Escalante said, “When the video shows that his statements did not match the video, he was charged with murder. There was no attempt to try to get his statements to match the evidence. Quite the contrary.”

The mayor conceded there were problems dealing with officers like those whose statements were at odds with the videotape.

The mayor’s new IPRA chief Sharon Fairley is charged with doing something about that.

“I promise you I bring no agenda other than the pursuit of integrity and transparency,” Fairley said.

Fairly replaces Scott Ando, who resigned Sunday. On Monday sources confirmed to CBS 2 that Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Dean Andrews resigned.

The mayor’s press conference came after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez released video in another fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer. She announced that the officer who shot Ronald Johnson in 2014 would not be facing charges.

Watch & Listen LIVE