Attorney general: Chicago cops should release shooting video

  • FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2014, file photo, Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference in Chicago. The Illinois Attorney General's Office is asking the Chicago Police Department In a letter released Wednesday Nov. 18, 2015, to release the video that shows an officer fatally shooting a black teenager last year. A Cook County judge is expected to rule on a Freedom of Information request tomorrow. The video has been of intense interest after it was revealed that the officer shot McDonald 16 times.

    FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2014, file photo, Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference in Chicago. The Illinois Attorney General's Office is asking the Chicago Police Department In a letter released Wednesday Nov. 18, 2015, to release the video that shows an officer fatally shooting a black teenager last year. A Cook County judge is expected to rule on a Freedom of Information request tomorrow. The video has been of intense interest after it was revealed that the officer shot McDonald 16 times. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/18/2015 6:48 PM

CHICAGO -- Illinois' attorney general has asked Chicago police to release a video that allegedly shows an officer shooting a black teenager 16 times last year.

The request came ahead of a Thursday hearing where a judge was expected to decide whether to order police to release dashcam video of the October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Police have said McDonald refused to drop a knife when officers confronted him while responding to a call about a person walking down a street with a knife.

 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office sent a letter to police this month saying they had "unsubstantiated" claims that releasing the footage to a journalist would hinder an investigation or deprive anyone of a fair trial. The letter said police had no legal right to withhold the video because another agency, the Independent Police Review Authority, was conducting the investigation.

The letter was released Wednesday by the law firm representing the freelance journalist, Brandon Smith, who filed a public records request seeking the video. Madigan's spokeswoman, Annie Thompson, confirmed that the office sent the letter.

The city's law department spokesman, Bill McCaffrey, on Wednesday reiterated that the city plans to release the video once a federal grand jury investigation concludes. But until then, "we do not want to do anything that might interfere with the ongoing investigation," he said.

An attorney for McDonald's family, Jeffrey Neslund, who has seen the video, said the footage shows McDonald was armed with a small knife but walking away from police when a white officer opened fire. He noted that McDonald's mother doesn't want the video released, because she fears it could spark violence in her Chicago neighborhood similar to the riots that erupted in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after police-involved deaths of black residents.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Chicago City Council took the unusual step in April of approving a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family, even though the family hadn't sued, after being advised to do so by a city attorney who had seen the video.

An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot 16 times, including at least twice in his back. The autopsy report also said McDonald had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system.

Police have said that the officer who shot McDonald had been stripped of his police powers and assigned to desk duty. Police have released few details about the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation, but the city's attorney has said that McDonald was walking away from police when he was shot.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi declined comment on Wednesday when asked about Thursday's hearing. Guglielmi didn't return phone messages later in the day seeking comment on the attorney general's letter.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the letter was sent to police earlier this month, not Wednesday.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.