Mayor Rahm Emanuel went on the offensive Tuesday, firing the city’s police superintendent a week after the release of a dash-cam video that showed a white Chicago officer fatally shooting a black teenager.
Emanuel called a news conference to announce the dismissal of Garry McCarthy, who only days ago insisted to reporters that the mayor had his “back.”
The mayor praised McCarthy’s leadership of the force but called it an “undeniable fact” that the public’s trust in the police has eroded.
Protesters have been calling for McCarthy’s dismissal in response to the handling of the death of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was killed in October 2014.
Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.
Emanuel introduced McCarthy as his pick to lead the department in May 2011, replacing former FBI agent Jody Weis, who was unpopular with many rank-and-file officers who claimed Weis did not stand behind them.
McCarthy rose through the ranks of New York City’s police department and was police director in Newark, New Jersey, when he was hired in Chicago.
In New York, McCarthy rose from patrolman to an executive position and was involved in rescue and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before taking the job in New Jersey. But his time in Newark was not without challenges or complaints.
The NAACP in New Jersey said McCarthy was more concerned about improving the safety of downtown Newark than of its neighborhoods.
In Chicago, the silent video shows McDonald walking down the middle of a four-lane street. He appears to veer away from two officers as they emerge from a vehicle, drawing their guns. Van Dyke opens fire from close range and continues firing after McDonald crumples to the ground.
Police have said McDonald was carrying a knife, and an autopsy revealed that he had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has said the 3-inch blade recovered from the scene had been folded into the handle.
Defense attorney Dan Herbert says his client feared for his life, acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story.
The Associated Press contributed to this story