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Emails: Chicago officials worried about response to video of teen's death

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Demonstrators calling for an end to gun violence and the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel march downtown on Dec. 31, 2015 in Chicago.(Photo: Getty Images)

Newly released emails among top-level Chicago officials show they worried for months about possible responses to the eventual release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager.
Chicago authorities released documents Thursday<span style="color: Red;">*</span>regarding the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed in October 2014 after being shot 16 times. The video, which was released in November 2015, prompted the resignation of a top police commander.
The emails also reveal that<span style="color: Red;">*</span>the city’s internal discussion of the situation ramped up after a Slate article detailing the autopsy results, and that a city spokesman helped draft a media response to be given by the Independent Police Review Authority. NBC 5 reported that while the IPRA was insisting that it was truly independent of the mayor’s office, the mayor’s office was also helping draft its public statements.
Justice advocates have criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration for what they see as stonewalling over the issue: Investigators had the video for a year but only took obvious action to respond once it was publicly released.
The city’s police department is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the officer who shot McDonald has been charged with murder.
The lawyer for McDonald’s family accurately predicted the video’s impact, writing to city officials in March that the family wanted $16 million to settle their wrongful-death lawsuit. The family ultimately received $5 million.
"I submit the graphic dash cam video will have a powerful impact on any jury and the Chicago community as a whole,” attorney Jeffrey Neslund told city officials, the Associated Press reported. "This case will undoubtedly bring a microscope of national attention to the shooting itself as well as the city's pattern, practice and procedures in rubber-stamping fatal police shootings of African Americans as 'justified.'"
The video showed McDonald veering away from officers before he was repeatedly shot, including while he was facedown on the pavement. Its release prompted a wave of protests across the city and calls for Emanuel to resign.

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