The 2014 shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald by white police officer Jason Van Dyke has left us with many questions about how far up the political chain this cover-up goes. And thanks to the release of emails we are getting closer to that answer.
While Emanuel denies seeing the dash-cam video of McDonald’s murder until it was released in November of last year, looking at 3,000 pages of emails between officials in the mayor’s office, the police department and the department reviewing the shooting, it’s clear that his advisors were fully aware that the “case could be politically explosive,” writes The Associated Press.
The emails also show that his staff was “scrambling” on how to deal with and react to the shooting, especially when the media and community activists began ringing the alarm. According to the Chicago Tribune, even the White House was concerned, with Elias Alcantara, the White House’s associate director for intergovernmental affairs sending the following note in November:
“Hope all is well and sorry for the Sunday email. We’ve been tracking the media coverage of the Laquan McDonald case and would like an update. Do any of you have a min to jump on the phone and provide a update on the situation? Hoping to get an update to the team here later this afternoon.”
Other emails also showed that:
- In December 2014, Scott Ando, head of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), sent an email to mayor’s deputy chief of staff, Janey Rountree with a link to a website that had raised serious doubts about Van Dyke’s account of the shooting.
- The IPRA, which is supposed to distance themselves from the police department and Mayor’s office, sent internal emails asking if they should forward transcripts from their investigation to the city to help in negotiations with the McDonald family.
- Adam Collins, Emanuel’s spokesman, sent many emails to staffers about media stories written about the shooting, one with the subject line of an article named, “If Chicago police have video of teen shooting, let’s see it: advocates.”
- Collins also sent an email to the IPRA warning them to “tread lightly” when being interviewed by journalists about “open investigations.” He also complained to staffers that the IPRA did not follow his suggestions when talking to the media about the case.
- Before the ruling of whether or not the dash-cam would become public record, there was a draft of a speech being written for Emanuel about the video, a video that he claimed he never saw.
- When the video was released, Emanuel’s staff began reaching out to his old contacts and associates from his time working for the Clintons to get PR advice on crafting talking points on how to address McDonald’s murder and the city’s silence on the issue for over a year.
Interesting enough, there are very little emails that mention Emanuel’s name per se and when it does he was often referred to as “MRE,” the AP noted. However, that most likely won’t matter to the hundreds of people who are calling for Emanuel’s resignation.
Recently, Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder, plead not guilty in court. If found guilty, he could face up to 30 years in prison for the death of McDonald.