Chicago is notorious for its tense relationship between police and the community — particularly the Black community — and things seem to have hit a low point this year.
Now, the city's watchdog organization, the Independent Police Review Authority, has released more than 300 dashcam, CCTV and cellphone videos of police who have been accused of misconduct in an effort to rebuild trust between the scandal-ridden department and the citizens it's supposed to protect and serve.
The video dump included footage of Flint Farmer being shot dead while laying on the found in 2011, as well as a film of David Strong being killed in 2012.
The footage of Strong show him attempting to flea the scene of a burglary when he backed into a police cruiser, as a response a number of officers begin to fire repeatedly into the vehicle, killing strong and wounding the two passengers.
This release represents more than 100 investigations that were carried out by the IPRA into Chicago officer conduct while on duty. IRPA chief administrator, Sharon Fairley, called the dump "an important first step" to bringing greater transparency between the force and the public it is supposed to protect.
"These past few months, as the city has struggled with so many questions about policing and about police accountability, it has been clear that we all agree that there's a lack of trust and that increased transparency is essential to rebuilding that trust," she said likely referencing the shooting death of Black chicago teenager, Laquan McDonald.
McDonald's case was especially controversial because while police initially claimed the teen lunged at them with a knife, the video clearly showed McDonald fleeing the officers. Officer Jason Van Dyke, one of the officers involved has now been charged with murder.
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's embattled mayor who has refused calls for his resignation in the midst of the scandal, called the release an "important next step," but admitted that there is still "a lot more work to do" around transparency.
Most of the cases involved have been marked as "firearm discharge", which relate to officer-involved shootings. Some also have been deemed "incident in police custody", meaning a suspect suffered significant bodily injury or death while being arrested or in detention.
Two cases have been filed under "other use of force", meaning incidents in which stun guns have resulted in significant bodily injury or death.
Dean Angelo, the president of the fraternal order of police chapter said the members of his group oppose the release of the videos because they have been edited down and do not represent the full incidents. He added that some of the videos are over 5 years old.
These releases, as well as information related to the releases are nearly unprecedented. Especially in a city as large, and as rife with police-related scandal as Chicago. But according to the Chicago Tribune this may have been the only action to take as the department is notorious for protecting information in shooting-related cases that do end up going to court.
The review also comes just weeks after Mayor Emanuel announced that the IPRA was to be abolished and replaced by a civilian agency.
This came after a review of the agency its self found that it was underfunded, and often staffed by former law enforcement, adding that findings were often overturned by the group's leaders. In another report, the Task Force on Police accountability said that the Chicago force has "no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color."
This footage release is one way to try and improve the relations between the city's police and its Black community, but there is still much work to be done.
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