CHICAGO (CBS) — It has only been 17 days since police shot and killed Adam Toledo, 13, in Little Village, and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has been quick to release the video.
Policy requires COPA to release video of police shootings no more than 60 days after they happen. As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, that policy was created in response to the Laquan McDonald shooting in 2014 – when it took more than a year and a court order for the city to release the controversial body cam video in that case.READ MORE: Elmhurst University Student Charged With Making Up Story About Man With Gun That Sent Campus Into Lockdown For Hours
But COPA hasn’t always complied.
The video from October 2014 captured the 16 shots by officer Jason Van Dyke that killed Laquan McDonald on South Pulaski Road. But that video did not see the light of day until more than a year later.
It was a black eye for Chicago’s transparency and led to the February 2016 announcement that the city will release videos of police shootings and in-custody deaths within 60 days.
It took COPA 17 days to release the video in the Adam Toledo case.
“That 60-day deadline is meant to be, you know, the absolute deadline when you have to put it out,” said Sharon Fairley, a legal expert and the former head of COPA. “That doesn’t mean you can’t put it out before then.”
Fairley said redactions take time, and some are more time consuming than others. She said COPA also wants to give families enough time to review the materials if they would like to.
She argues that it is more important to err on the side of transparency.READ MORE: City Panel Backs $97 Million Sale Of Vacant Michael Reese Hospital Site For Massive 'Bronzeville Lakefront' Development
“Materials should be made publicly available unless there’s a specific identifiable reason why they shouldn’t,” she said, “and so I think that’s really the calculus that that the agencies tasked with making.”
That doesn’t always happen.
Last year, the Office of the Inspector General reported finding at least 33 instances where the 60-day policy was violated over a three-year period.
One case was the controversial July 2018 shooting of Harith Augustus in South Shore.
Some body camera video was released almost immediately in that case, but it was discovered that other video materials were withheld for more than a year.
“The videos demonstrate a number of systemic failures on the part of the department,” said Sheila Bedi of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
Bedi, who was part of the Chicago Police consent decree negotiations, reviewed the video for us this afternoon.
“It’s very clear that because of the nature of the foot pursuit that the officer was unable to accurately assess the threat that Adam posed, and that’s why he was shot and killed while he had his hands up,” Bedi said.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Update: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
Now what does the 2019 federal court-ordered Chicago Police consent decree say about all of this? It reiterates that 60-day window for releasing video, but does not give any more specific guidance about early release or transparency concerns surrounding a delayed release.