CHICAGO (CBS) — Visibly angry and holding back tears, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said CPD officers seen lounging, napping, making coffee and popping popcorn in the campaign office of U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-1st) will be held accountable.
The incident happened on Monday June 1 at Rush’s campaign office at 5401 S. Wentworth Ave., as protests and looting were underway throughout the city. Lightfoot was angered at the fact that while other officers were dealing with the unrest, several officers are pictured relaxing in the congressman’s office.
“Two weeks ago on a Sunday evening early Monday morning, I got a call at home (that) my campaign offices in South Wentworth have been (broken into). And that we had a videotape of eight or more officer lounging in my office when looters were breaking into stores,” Rush said, who added he was shocked with what he saw.
“One was asleep on my couch in my campaign office. They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave,” Rush said. “They were in a mode of relaxation and did not care about what was happening. They did not care. They absolutely did not care.”
Lightfoot apologized to Rush for the behavior of the officers.
“It’s such a profound disrespect. It’s a personal embarrassment to me. And I’m sorry that you and your staff, even had to deal with this incredible indignity,” Lightfoot said. “And I can tell you one thing for certain, not one of these officers will be allowed to hide behind the badge and go on like nothing every happened. Not anymore. Not in my city. Not in your city.”
There were at least 13 officers involved in the incident, including three supervisors. In video images, the CPD officers are seen sleeping on a couch, sitting around checking their phones and making coffee.
“I believe that they tarnished the badge,” Lightfoot said when asked what should happen to the officers. She wasn’t specific about whether they should be immediately relieved of their duties. But she leaned in that direction.
“I believe we should take the strongest possible action. Particularly with supervisors,” Lightfoot said. “There will be a reckoning with the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) and that moment is now.”
The unrest came about days after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Phone video showed a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd later died. Derek Chauvin, now an ex-Minneapolis police officer, is charged with Floyd’s murder.
The event triggered protests in Minneapolis and throughout the country, including Chicago, where demonstrators decried another case of police brutality.
“Of course, when a black man dies in the street with a white police officer’s knee on his neck, it is murder. But it’s also profoundly unjust. And we can have no tolerance for that ever. And people are rightly outraged,” Lighfoot said.
She added just as intolerable are the actions of police officers who were taped relaxing as chaos engulfed the city.
“But equally unacceptable, is when there is looting and brazen criminal conduct. And it really is the height of injustice. When police are deployed, given a mission, and they fail to act; that too is injustice.”
Rush, who was not supportive of Lightfoot during her campaign for mayor, said he stands by her and has been supportive of her efforts.
“She is so committed and well meaning. I know. I am so proud of her leadership,” Rush said, who added that he has confidence the matter will be respectfully resolved.
Despite not raising her voice, tears welled in the mayor’s eyes in talking about the incident, as she recalled the refrain people of color are often told with how to handle difficult situations.
Lightfoot said she has taken personally what the CPD officers are seen doing in Rush’s office during one of the most tumultuous times in the city’s most recent history.
“We are often told don’t show your rage. Don’t let them paint you as another angry black woman. Keep it together, be respectable and presentable. I have fought with every fiber of my being to survive in a world that was built to throw flaming roadblocks in our way as black people,” Lightfoot said, adding that recent reports of police misconduct in Chicago have been nothing less than upsetting.
“Let’s use our anger to get results. And what I’m also feeling in this moment is incredible resolve. I do have a range of emotions as I stand here. But mostly. I’m done.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown also criticized the CPD officers seen in the video and promised that those involved will be dealt with.
“Angry. Disgusted doesn’t really express it can’t begin to express how I feel,” Brown said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my 34 years, Brown said. “These officers did nothing to help their fellow officers. In those instances they stood by and just did nothing. The supervisors should be even held to a higher and will be held to a higher standard. They fail to live up to the standard, the integrity that we have as a policeman.”
The outrage went beyond elected officials.
Maria Larios is a manager at the Furniture Express at the strip mall. Her store was decimated by looting that Sunday, May 31.
“Whatever they couldn’t take, they broke,” she said.
Larios took issue with the police response.
“To this point, I don’t think they even cared,” she told CBS 2’s Jermont Terry. “I think they just let them do it.”
Chopper 2 was over the strip mall that Sunday night, when looters carried out anything they could. By daylight on Monday, June 1, Chopper 2 was still catching people going in and out of businesses.
But what was not clear was the exact time the officer decided to chill in Rush’s office. Rush would only say the images he and Mayor Lightfoot showed were from after midnight Monday morning.
“My question was where was the police?” said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd). “Now we know where they were.”
Dowell said the fact that officers was seen relaxing while looting was going on all around them was a slap in the face.
“This is a total dereliction of duty by these police officers,” Dowell said.
But the Fraternal Order of Police said the images were taken out of context.
FOP Lodge 7 First Vice President Michael Mette told WBBM Newrsadio that he thought the officers were set up – and claims it was the mayor’s way of deflecting blame for her own incompetence
“I find it very difficult to think that these officers were just inside Bobby Rush’s office without permission,” Mette told the station.
Mette also told WBBM Newsradio that Lightfoot and Rush’s news conference appeared “staged,” and said it came as Lightfoot is trying to remove protections from officers accused of wrongdoing.
Lightfoot said CPD has begun the process of identifying the officers involved but said they should come forward now.
“You know who you are, what you did. Make a complaint. Come in, identify yourselves,” Lightfoot said. “We will find you.”
CBS 2’s Chris Tye and Jermont Terry contributed to this report.