CHICAGO (CBS) — Anita Alvarez has not spoken publicly since her last day as Cook County State’s Attorney Cook County State’s Attorney.
The former prosecutor recently sat down with CBS 2’s Brad Edwards to discuss Chicago street violence, policing and what her future holds.
Alvarez thought she had a rough final year.
“When it was all over and you look at it, I do feel like the scapegoat,” she said.
Alvarez said she was caught in “a tsunami” of controversial issues, including the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent release of the dash cam video. The footage ignited street protests and led to the firing of former Police Supt. Gary McCarthy and a Department of Justice probe.
The DOJ interviewed Alvarez for a total of 90 minutes. She said the brevity surprised her, as did the fact that some other influential figures were not consulted.
“If I were doing the investigation, I’d have interviewed [McCarthy], Jody Weis and maybe Phil Cline [McCarthy’s two predecessors],” she said.
Alvarez spent her 30-year career as a prosecutor. She was America’s first female and first Latina state’s attorney for the final eight years. She lost in her run for a third term amid public outcry over the McDonald killing.
“If I wasn’t in the middle of a re-election, the fact that I was charging a Chicago police officer, an on-duty Chicago police officer, with first-degree murder based on excessive force,” Alvarez said. “I probably would have been a hero but I was in the middle of a campaign.”
“Critics will say you weren’t strong enough on police brutality,” responded CBS 2’s Brad Edwards.
“I charged over 100 police officers in the eight years I was in charge,” Alvarez replied. “That’s more than any of my predecessors. I think people need to understand, convicting police officers is an extremely hard thing to do.”
Alvarez did charge Chicago Police Cmdr. Glenn Evans in 2014 with assaulting a suspect with his gun. But a judge would acquit Evans, who is now back on the force.
“I think that’s horrific,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez doubts she will re-enter politics in the future. She said she will mostly continue working on behalf of victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, which were areas she focused on as prosecutor.