CHICAGO (CBS) — In his first public comments on the growing controversy around the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, Gov. Bruce Rauner questioned why it took so long to deal with the case, while stopping short of directly criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel or Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Rauner said the video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times is “shocking [and] terrifying,” and he said he cried after he saw it last week.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Released From Hospital After Being Shot In Shopping Center Parking Lot At North And Sheffield Avenues
“I cried for the young man who was brutally shot; cried for the thousands of police officers who are honest and hard-working, put themselves in harm’s way to preserve and protect us, and whose reputation gets damaged by the behavior of a few bad people; cried for the violence that is tearing apart so many of our communities,” the governor said.
As many protesters have, Rauner questioned why it took more than a year to file murder charges against Van Dyke.
“Anybody who sees that video has to really wonder why would it take so long to prosecute or deal with this. What’s taken so long? It’s a legitimate question for everybody to be asking,” he said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Pleasant Parade Weather Tuesday
Many protesters have called for Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign over their handling of the case, but Rauner said it would be up to voters to decide if Alvarez should stay in office, when she’s up for re-election next year, and he applauded the mayor — a longtime friend — for welcoming a federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department’s policies and practices.
“I think the mayor took a very positive step today by agreeing to expand and encourage the federal investigation to grow larger,” Rauner said. “That’s really a decision to be made by the Obama administration. The federal government does not need to be asked or encouraged to investigate where they think there are problems. They can do it unilaterally. I’m a little surprised that the Obama administration hasn’t taken steps before now. I don’t know why.”
Rauner said the problems at the Chicago Police Department clearly are not isolated to the McDonald case.
“I think you can see the pattern of challenges and questions about the interaction between police and members of the community. This is not a one-time event. This has been going on for a while,” he said. “I’ve spoken to the mayor about these issues, and we’ll always continue to have dialogue with the mayor’s office.”MORE NEWS: More Than A Third Of CPD Staff Missed Vaccine Reporting Deadline; City Could Begin Placing Employees On 'No Pay' Status Today
Earlier in the day, a group of ministers demanded Rauner appoint a special prosecutor in the McDonald case, but Rauner’s office noted he does not have the authority to do so.