Newly released emails reveal coordination after teen's death (w/video)

Published January 1 2016
Updated January 1 2016

CHICAGO — The Chicago mayor's office, police and the body that investigates police shootings closely coordinated their response in the months after a white officer fatally shot a black teenager in 2014, clearly indicating that advisers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew within months that the case could be politically explosive.

Thousands of emails were released in response to open-records requests regarding 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed in October 2014 when he was shot 16 times. Few communications from Emanuel's staff mention him directly — though several refer to him by the acronym "MRE."

A video of the officer shooting McDonald — which was not made public until more than a year later, on Nov. 24 — led to protests and repeated calls for Emanuel to resign. The officer has been charged with murder and pleaded not guilty.

Emanuel has denied ever seeing the video prior to its release, a contention many activists have said they do not believe. The emails released Thursday do not appear to contradict Emanuel's claim, though they indicate serious concern at City Hall that the video could present a major public-relations problem.

The city released the emails a day after Emanuel said police must be better trained. His remarks came on the heels of a shooting last weekend by police that killed two people: 55-year-old Bettie Jones, who police said was shot accidentally, and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, who police said was being "combative." Both were black.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Thursday that she has asked the FBI for help investigating the deaths.