People are doubtful about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s claims that he never saw the horrific video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 in Chicago. Well, things won’t be ameliorated any time soon, especially after new emails obtained by the Daily Beast showed that city attorneys demanded that the McDonald family bury the dash cam footage and offered $5 million in “hush money” prior to the 2015 mayoral runoff. Oh, and this came after they briefed the mayor. The Beast added that the emails showed the McDonald family agreed to keep the video buried–and that the effort to keep what happened to McDonald under the radar reached the top levels of the mayor’s office (via Daily Beast) [emphasis mine]:
City of Chicago lawyers, after meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, demanded the Laquan McDonald family bury the video showing the killing of their son by a police officer.
Emanuel said last month that Stephen Patton, Chicago’s corporation counsel, briefed him “towards the end of March” about what the dashboard-camera video showed and about the proposed $5 million settlement with McDonald’s estate.
Emanuel had maintained since McDonald’s death that he has never seen the dash-cam video, but the emails prove the mayor knew exactly what the footage showed when city lawyers negotiated a deal that would at least delay the video’s release. Attorneys for McDonald’s estate sent Platt screenshots of the video and a detailed description
Emanuel’s lawyers were offering $5 million in hush money to keep this hidden just weeks before the runoff election. And the biggest part of the deal—that McDonald family attorneys agreed to keep the video to themselves until criminal proceedings were concluded—just so happened to be inked the day after Emanuel was re-elected.
…[T]he City Council voted unanimously to approve the $5 million settlement in just 36 seconds. Emanuel banged a gavel to mark the approval and the end—or so he thought—of the greatest threat to his mayoralty.
Emanuel’s lawyers were offering $5 million in hush money to keep the video hidden just weeks before the runoff election.
Emanuel wrote in a December op-ed in the Chicago Tribune that the settlement couldn’t be part of a cover-up because it was the McDonald family’s attorneys who approached the city wanting to settle.
What was not mentioned by Emanuel is that those same attorneys first rejected, then somehow agreed to, the city’s desire to bury the video until criminal proceedings had been completed.
But the settlement agreement never required the McDonald family’s attorneys to hold the video until an investigation was completed. Instead, over the objections of the McDonald estate, Platt and the city pressed for language that would keep the video hidden far beyond the end of investigations and until as long as a criminal trial was concluded.
Not only do the emails show the effort to cover up what really happened to Laquan McDonald went to the top of the Emanuel administration, they also show the mayor’s office was pulling strings at the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), which, as its name indicates, should be independent.
The Associated Press reported that there was coordination between the mayor’s office, the police department, and IPRA during this investigation. The Laquan McDonald incident has proven to be the biggest threat to Emanuel’s political career–not to mention an issue that could also torpedo his personal reputation. Forget the ethical issues with “pulling strings” on a law enforcement investigatory board, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the paper trail suggests the mayor’s office knew this event could sink Emanuel’s re-election prospects. Add this to the possible botched investigation of another police shooting four years prior, the criticisms of Rahm and the slim associated with Chicago Democratic politics is quite explicit. There’s a bill proposed in the state legislature to set protocols for a recall election to remove a Mayor of Chicago. We’ll have to see how this piece of legislation turns out, but for now, Rahm remains under siege–and rightfully so.
Edit (Matt): I meant to say 2015 runoff, not 2011 -- my apologies, folks.