Chicago police chief ousted after officer is charged with killing

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says public trust shaken after release of shooting video

Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy and mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) at a news conference last month where they discussed the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Photograph: Joshua Lott/The New York Times

Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy and mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) at a news conference last month where they discussed the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Photograph: Joshua Lott/The New York Times

 

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has ousted the city’s police chief Garry McCarthy a week after the release of a year-old video showing the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding teenager by a police officer.

Mr Emanuel said public trust in the police had been shaken after officer Jason Van Dyke was last week charged with first-degree murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

He was charged on the same day a dashboard-camera police video became public showing Van Dyke shooting the black teenager 16 times as he walked away from police in October 2014.

The mayor said while Mr McCarthy had achieved much his presence as the city’s top police officer had become a “distraction”.

“Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership,” said Mr Emanuel, who had stood by Mr McCarthy in recent days.

He named first deputy superintendent John Escalante as acting police commissioner pending a nationwide search for a successor to Mr McCarthy, who had been in charge for more than four years.

Chicago authorities have come under fire for taking 13 months to charge Van Dyke in the shooting.

Mr McCarthy had refused to step down in the wake of the release of the video and Van Dyke’s arrest. He was called to a meeting in the mayor’s office early on Tuesday and forced to resigned.

The release of the video brought protesters on to the streets of Chicago, heaping further pressure on the police chief who was already criticised for the city’s high rates of homicides and gun crime.

There were 411 murders in Chicago in 2014. At the end of August, homicides were up about 20 per cent over the same period a year ago.

Some of the city’s worst neighbourhoods, such as West Garfield Park and Englewood, have the highest murder rates in the US.