Federal Judge Orders Chicago To Release Video Of Police Shooting

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Casey Harper Contributor
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A federal judge ordered the release of surveillance footage Thursday that shows Chicago police fatally shoot a 17-year-old black man. The judge took a moment to excoriate the Chicago officials for trying to hide the video from the public.

Chicago Police Officer Kevin Fry fatally shot Cedrick Chatman in January of 2013. Chatman left a stolen vehicle and and fled on foot from two officers before he was Fry shot him four times. Fry said Chatman slightly turned around toward the officers and that he thought Chatman had a gun. The “gun” was actually a black iPhone box.

City officials fought to keep the video, which is evidence in a lawsuit against the city and the officers in Chatman’s death, hidden from public view. But U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled Thursday the video should be made public and lambasted the city for its efforts to hide the evidence. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fought to keep the video hidden well into December, even after he promised a renewed effort at transparency, CNN reports.

“I’m very disturbed about the way this has happened,” Gettleman said. “This should not have happened the way it did.”

“I think it’s irresponsible,” Gettleman added.

The city attempted to spin the release as a change of heart and an effort to be more transparent, despite the fact they fought the release for years.

“In this case, the city sought a protective order consistent with its decades-long policy,” Stephen R. Patton, head of Chicago’s Law Department, said Wednesday. “We recognize the policy needs to be updated, and while we await guidance from the Task Force on Police Accountability, we are working to be as transparent as possible.”

This is yet another death at the hands of police that has angered Black Lives Matter protesters. The video release comes after the contentious police shooting of Laquan McDonald. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, was indicted with six counts of first-degree murder in the death of the 17-year-old McDonald, who is black, but pleaded not guilty. The shooting occurred in October of last year. Van Dyke is also charged with one count of official misconduct.

A video of McDonald’s death shows McDonald moving away from police as he is fatally shot 16 times. Authorities said McDonald had taken PCP and had a pocket knife.

The footage drew national outrage and led to the firing of the police superintendent and calls for Emanuel’s resignation since the shooting happened more than a year ago, but charges were only now brought against a cop. Emanuel tried to keep the video hidden from the public and has dismissed calls for his resignation.

On top of that, Chicago police fatally shot a 19-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman in December, but police later said shooting the woman was an accident. Police were intentionally shooting at Quintonio LeGrier, who they say charged at them with a baseball bat. After firing several shots, however, police also  fatally shot Bettie Jones in the chest. The cop said he didn’t see her.

These cases have piled up and fueled growing anger towards police and the city.

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