Alfred Adler, a noted physician and psychotherapist of the late 1800s and early 1900s, must have envisioned the Chicago Police Department and others like it when he said, “A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt dangerous.”
The truth definitely felt dangerous in Chicago recently when its Police Department and top city officials were forced to show a video of a 17-year-old suspect being shot 16 times by a police officer.
The video proved that there was something rotten inside the CPD, the District Attorney’s Office and the halls of city leadership.
It also shows the blueprint of a classic cover-up that could lead any reasonable person to conclude it has happened before in Chicago, and probably other places, including your town.
Had dash cams and cellphone cameras been available many years ago, how many unwarranted police killings and attacks would have been revealed? On the other hand, such technology could have also validated the heroism of peace officers in their dangerous jobs.
It is sickening to watch Officer Jason Van Dyke continue shooting into the body of a suspect long after he was motionless on the ground.
Van Dyke claimed after the shooting that McDonald lunged at him with a 3-inch knife and, fearing for his safety, he then shot him. A Police Department news release did not mention he fired 16 shots into McDonald.
His fellow officers at the scene allegedly and shamelessly did not challenge the comment. Even the head of the Chicago police union supported his comment. The video clearly showed that was not the case.
It took a court order to pry the crucial video from the 14-month death grip of the CPD and District Attorney’s Office. Oddly, the DA’s Office didn’t file charges until the video was about to be released.
Months earlier, the CPD got the Chicago City Council to fork over $5 million to McDonald’s family, even before they had filed a lawsuit. Part of the hush money deal was that the family could not release the devastating video.
Bringing even more suspicion to this case is the claim by CPD that the sound on the dash cams on all five cars at the scene did not work. “I’ve never heard of it before,” Gregg Stutchman, a video forensics specialist, told the Associated Press about the chances of five dash cam sound capabilities dying all at once.
More than Van Dyke should face prison time or at least rebuke for their lies and cowardice:
The police officers who witnessed the shooting and either lied about what happened or said nothing.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police spokesman who now says he made his comments based on second-hand information. He also says he won’t watch the video. Essentially, he will take information from “Joe the Barber and his cousin Louie” if it protects his guy, but will not look at the truth in the video.
The district attorney who claimed that the case was so complicated that she could not bring charges against the officer for more than 14 months.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel because he either knew about the video but may have chosen not to see it so that he could claim plausible deniability.
The Chicago Council members who had to know the contents of the video when they agreed to pay $5 million of taxpayer money to pay off McDonald’s family, with the stipulation that the video could not be made public.
The police chief was fired earlier this week, as he should have been months ago. But cutting him loose is the mayor’s effort to deflect from his own misconduct.
This case joins others in recent memory that show the need for all law enforcement officers to wear working body cameras and to use dash cameras for the truth to be available for both them and us.
This comment by the late German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche best sums up the aftermath of this Chicago mess. “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Edward Pratt, a south Louisiana freelance writer, can be reached through email@example.com.