WASHINGTON - Just days after Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy stepped down, as part of the fallout from the police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the police department’s “policies and practices.”
In a letter to Lynch, Durbin says the death of McDonald, is just “one of a number of incidents” that have frayed the relationship between Chicago police and the community they serve. “[I]n truth, this most recent incident is only the latest in a series of troubling events over many years,” Durbin said in his letter. “The incidents raise serious concerns about whether the CPD has in place appropriate policies and practices to prevent civil rights violations.”
Durbin says an impartial Justice Department investigation can help identify areas where the police department has “fallen short and guide the CPD onto a better course.” He adds, that while the “overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are conscientious and professional … there is undeniable evidence that some have abused the authority given them.”
A police car dash-cam video, shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times - with most of the shots being fired after McDonald was already down in the street. The shooting occurred in October 2014, but the video wasn’t released until late last month, following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by a freelance journalist.
In April, prior to the city’s election, in which Mayor Emmanuel won a close run-off election, the Chicago Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family - even before a lawsuit had been filed.
Van Dyke, currently out on bond, is charged with first-degree murder by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Protesters this week, also called for Emmanuel and Alvarez to resign. Both say they have no plans to do so.