CHICAGO (AP) — The city of Chicago kept up its fight Wednesday to stem the release of a 2013 fatal police shooting video despite pledges of greater transparency in the wake of the release of another police shooting and a newly announced U.S. Department of Justice investigation into law enforcement.
The family of Cedrick Chatman sued the city after the black 17-year-old, who was a suspect in a car theft, was killed by a white officer on Jan. 7, 2013. At a Wednesday hearing in the civil case, a federal judge said he'd decide Jan. 14 whether to order the city to release the footage of Chatman's shooting death.
After the hearing, a family lawyer criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel, saying he had the power to order the video's release himself.
"(His) new take is that he wants transparency, he wants change," Brian Coffman said. "If Mr. Emanuel wants change ... he should ... call us and say, 'You know what? We're not going to fight this anymore.'"
Also Wednesday, Emanuel spoke at a special City Council meeting about the crisis that's dogged him and the police department after the Oct. 20, 2014, fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white Officer Jason Van Dyke. The city released a squad-car video of the McDonald shooting on Nov. 24 — but only after a state judge ordered them to.
In the Chatman case, city lawyers have stuck to similar arguments they used in opposing the McDonald video's release: It could prejudice would-be jurors if the case goes to trial. City attorneys didn't comment after the hearing.
The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police shootings, cleared the officer of wrongdoing. The Cook County state's attorney office has said it saw the authority report and chose not to pursue charges.
Officials have said Chatman appeared to reach for something before getting out of a car and that officers believed it was a gun; it turned out to be a small box, the prosecutor's office said. Video from several building security cameras show Chatman running with nothing in his hand as two white officers chased him and one fatally shot him, according to Coffman, who has seen it.
Court filings allege that the IPRA cleared the officer only after an investigator who opposed that finding, Lorenzo Davis, was fired.
An IPRA spokesman declined comment Wednesday. But Davis' lawyer, Torreya Hamilton, said the release of the video will corroborate Davis' allegations.
More generally about IPRA's investigations, Hamilton said: "Findings were almost always in favor of officers."
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