#injusticereads: What you missed last week

Once again this week, the issue of allegations of police abuse — and how those allegations are handled — continues to dominate our reading. That’s been true, of course, ever since Thanksgiving week, when the video of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times was made public. As the Sun-Times succinctly put it in an editorial published Sunday: “Something fundamental is out of whack at the CPD.” Last Tuesday the City Council held a marathon hearing at which the head of the union representing the city’s police blamed officials and the media for having “kicked our kids while they’re down.” Several aldermen voiced outrage at the hearing over the video and related disclosures of questionable conduct.

A Tale of Two Cities

The news out of Chicago and Baltimore tells a lot about the challenges of guarding against rogue police. A mistrial was declared in Baltimore after a jury could not reach a verdict in the manslaughter trial of Police Officer William G. Porter in connection with the death of a 25-year old man named Freddie Gray, who died in April from injuries suffered in the back of a police van. Porter had been accused by prosecutors of “callous indifference,” for not calling a medic when Gray asked for one, and for not buckling him into the rear of the police van in which he suffered a fatal spinal cord injury. Porter was expected to be the first in a series of officers to face trial as a result of Gray’s death. The case had been closely watched, as one of a series of cases across the country that raised questions about the treatment of people of color in police custody.

What you missed: Commander acquitted and the role of police video

There is plenty of news still swirling around the issues of police shootings, allegations of abuse, and how they are investigated, including mayoral apologies and the launching of a federal probe. Even as the fallout from the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke continues, questions mount around other incidents of alleged police abuse in Chicago. Cook County Circuit Judge Police Commander Glenn Evans was acquitted Monday on charges of aggravated battery over allegations he shoved his service revolver down the throat of a drug suspect. Many of the cases under scrutiny now involve video. The Sun-Times reviewed three recent cases in which the city paid out millions. In each, the videos appeared to contradict the police accounts; in none of them, unlike McDonald’s shooting, was the officer charged.

Former Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel

McCarthy left Newark police a mess, too

When he took the job as police superintendent in Chicago in 2011, Garry McCarthy left behind a department in Newark that faced many of the same type of problems that now plague the Chicago Police Department.

Wash Post: “Perfect storm of deceit”

What distinguished the McDonald case, which has now triggered the federal investigation, is that the officer’s actions appear so outrageous, the city’s coverup so blatant and the official line so thoroughly discredited by the release of a video , which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s (D) administration tried so hard to keep under wraps.

In the days before video….

The other night the esteemed Tom Sullivan, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who now is president of the board of Injustice Watch, was discussing the way things have changed. In the old days, noted Tom, lawyers had little to go on when their clients told sharply different accounts from what the police said. Of course, jurors would be hard pressed to disbelieve the officers, and especially to credit the version of a defendant over the word of the officer. But now, videos have opened a new world, where seeing is believing. It’s not always pretty.

Everything you should know about Chicago police accountability

A judge’s order that the dashboard video of Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke shooting to death 17-year old Laquan McDonald has set off an avalanche of developments that continue to unfold. On Monday U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announced the U.S. Department of Justice is opening a probe into the pattern and practices of the Chicago Police Department. That probe had been called for by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and supported by demonstrators and many politicians locally and nationally. At first Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed his own panel of Chicago lawyers, said he opposed the idea of a Justice Department investigation. Quickly he changed course and said he supported the investigation.