As It Happens

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel under fire over handling of Laquan McDonald shooting

Journalist Brandon Smith, who sued to have the video released, is calling for all related documents' to be released, including communications with the Mayor's office.
Still from dashcam video moments before Laquan McDonald was shot, left, and journalist Brandon Smith who sued to have the police video released, right. (Chicago Police Department/AP)

The calls for accountability over the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald continue in Chicago. 

On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired police superintendent Garry McCarthy. That's after the officer who shot the teenager was charged with first-degree murder, immediately after the video of the shooting was released. 

Others are saying the mayor himself should step down.

The video was taken just over a year ago, on the night McDonald died, and it likely wouldn't have been released if freelance journalist Brandon Smith hadn't filed suit against the city of Chicago, demanding the video be made public. Now, Smith wants all documents related to the case released - including communication between the police department and the mayor's office.

Smith spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the case. Here is an excerpt of their conversation.

Carol Off: A lot of the fallout from this comes back to you, as a freelance journalist, you were the one who fought to make the video public, and you were successful where others were not. What do you think has changed because of that video now being exposed to the public?

Laquan McDonald, in an undated photo provided by his family shows. (AP)

 Brandon Smith: The spotlight has shone on the problem of police shootings, and more so the fact that police are not punished for their possible misdeeds. Complaints against police officers are almost never followed up with. We're asking the city to release everything regarding this case, including internal emails, and statements made by all the officers there on the scene. We think that will be a gesture that will be well received by the public, and will help restore public trust. 

CO: What do you think will be revealed in those documents? 

BS: It's hard to say. My suspicion is that we'll be able to know who within the police department and the city government knew what went down that night, and how long they kept it under wraps. If we know when they learned it,
we'll know how long they kept this incident secret, which of course, prosecutors have called a murder. 

CO: There are those who are already saying there is a coverup in Chicago around this. They point to the timing of releases that seem to correspond with the re-election of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. What do you say to that? 

BS: I think the timing of all these events is telling. It demonstrates the priorities of the city government. If this officer had been charged at literally any point before the judge ordered the video released, the people of the city would've understood that government wanted justice here. But as it stands, it doesn't look like those in power want justice, they want to make sure they don't look so bad. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

To hear the full interview please select the Listen audio link above.


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