Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy Tuesday, a move that comes as the city is grappling with the fallout of the release of a video showing the brutal shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014.
Emanuel’s decision echoes the calls of many of Chicago’s residents and leaders. Protests have been happening all over the city since the video’s release last week, and the city’s black aldermen — who’ve been critical of McCarthy in the past for his handling of crime in their communities — had been nearly unanimous in their call to get rid of McCarthy. However, up until today, Emanuel had stood by the police chief, and he reportedly still had his job when the two met Monday at City Hall. According to the Sun-Times, the mayor changed his mind overnight, a decision that left McCarthy “shell-shocked.”
During the press conference, Emanuel thanked McCarthy for his service and for modernizing the police department, but said that “now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership.” The mayor added that the police force had been undermined and trust fractured in the wake of the McDonald video and the murder charges against the officer who shot the teen 16 times.
Before announcing McCarthy’s ouster, Emanuel gave some details about the new task force on police conduct that he’s pulling together. The task force will review officers’ training and oversight and will include former law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, and legal experts, among them former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.
McCarthy took the job of Chicago’s top cop in 2011 and has served in that role for most of Emanuel’s tenure. He was previously the chief of Newark police and had worked as the deputy commissioner of operations for the NYPD.
John J. Escalante, who was second in command as the city’s first deputy superintendent, will serve as the acting superintendent.