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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Fired

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appear at a news conference on Tuesday in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast

Amid growing criticism, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has dismissed police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

After announcing that he was appointing a task force to look at police accountability, Emanuel said that "public trust" in the city's police force has been "shaken" and "eroded" and so he had asked McCarthy to resign.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Justice Department Tuesday to investigate whether the Chicago Police Department's practices violated constitutional law. The agency confirmed to NPR's Carrie Johnson that it is reviewing the request.

The Chicago Urban League also sent a letter asking for a review of the police department. The group sent a letter last week and renewed the request Tuesday.

Of course, this comes about a week after a court order forced the city to release a video showing the police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The black teenager was gunned down on Oct. 20, 2014.

The video shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times shortly after Van Dyke stepped out of his vehicle. Right before the video's release on Nov. 24, prosecutors had announced they would charge Van Dyke with first-degree murder.

Since then, protesters have taken to the streets, and many people — including the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times — have called on McCarthy to quit or for Emanuel to fire him. Others have asked for Emanuel's resignation, accusing the city of attempting to cover up the shooting by trying to block the video's release for about a year.

Emanuel defended McCarthy's tenure, saying that he had brought crime rates down using community policing tactics. Still, the mayor said, a police chief is only as "effective as the trust that the community" places in him.

"Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership," Emanuel said.

He added that his administration had opposed the release of the video to ensure the integrity of the investigation into the incident.

Emanuel was asked if he had been trying to block the release so that it wouldn't hurt his bid for re-election ahead of the vote last spring.

"I said a long time ago that upon the completion of the investigation, the video would be released," Emanuel said. The video, he said, was released hours after the investigation was completed and charges were filed.

The mayor said federal authorities were looking into McDonald's shooting and so would this new task force.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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