November 13, 2015 – In a story date-lined 1:43 PM today, the Chicago Tribune reports that Mayor Emanuel commented on why the City of Chicago is still refusing to release police film of an officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald sixteen times in October 2014. The Tribune reports that Mayor Emanuel said that now is not “the appropriate time” because of an alleged on-going FBI investigation.
On May 26, 2015, independent journalist Brandon Smith filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Chicago Police Department, and after the department stonewalled the request for several months, he filed suit, citing the State of Illinois’s FOIA law. A ruling is expected on November 19, 2015.
Here are comments from Mr. Smith and his attorney, Matt Topic, responding to the mayor’s comments today:
“There is no inappropriate time for transparency, especially when the government takes a young life,” said attorney Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy. “Information sympathetic to the officer’s account of events has already been released, but when it comes to releasing the objective video evidence that could substantiate a witness’s reported description of the shooting as ‘an execution,’ the City applies a double standard.”
“As many other cities, like Seattle, have recognized, police shooting videos need to be immediately released because that’s what a transparent government does,” said journalist Brandon Smith, who has filed the FOIA request at issue. “If reforms in police policy, or culture, or education, need to be made following an incident like the one that killed Laquan McDonald, when should they be made? I think most people would say they need to be made immediately. In the order of weeks, not years.”