The Corner

Law & the Courts

Chicago Tribune: Rahm Emanuel’s Staff Was Aware of Laquan McDonald Shooting Details the Morning After

Now this is a headline Rahm Emanuel doesn’t want to see: “Top Emanuel Aides Aware of Key Laquan McDonald Details Months before Mayor Says He Knew.”

Emanuel was allready under intense political pressure over his handling of the October 2014 shooting of McDonald, and this blockbuster Chicago Tribune report will only add to the speculation that he slow-walked the controversy until after his close-run reelection campaign was over.

From the Tribune:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he didn’t understand the gravity of Laquan McDonald’s shooting death at the hands of a Chicago police officer until just before the city settled with the teen’s family last spring, and that he wasn’t aware other officers may have falsified reports about the shooting until just after the video was released to the public.

But interviews, official city calendars and emails show in both cases the mayor’s closest aides and City Hall attorneys knew much earlier than that.

Unfortunately for Emanuel, President Obama’s first chief of staff, Chicago’s leading newspaper reports “email traffic at City Hall started almost immediately after the shooting, and inquiries about the dash-cam video were made in the first month.”

Is it still plausible that Emanuel wasn’t fully aware of the explosive situation?

On Oct. 21, 2014, the morning after McDonald was shot, Janey Rountree, Emanuel’s deputy chief of staff for public safety who later took a lead on issues surrounding the case, received an email from Chicago Public Schools’ chief safety and security office informing her that McDonald, a student at an alternative CPS school, was shot and killed by police. . . . 

The shooting video wasn’t released until a Cook County judge’s order forced it into the spotlight last fall. And Emanuel took no steps against his Police Department until late last year, despite the reports from officers at the scene that clearly contradict the video.

So either Emanuel was aware of the ramifications of the McDonald shooting and yet covered it up until after his reelection, or he was so incompetent that he wasn’t aware of what his senior staff was up to. It will be interesting to see how — and if — Chicago’s “Godfather” manages to dig his way out of this one.

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