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Chicago fires top cop after black teen’s fatal shooting

Chicago’s mayor fired the city police chief Tuesday after a graphic video of a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager sparked a week of protests.

world Updated: Dec 02, 2015 10:20 IST
AFP
This May 5, 2012 file photo shows Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (C) speaking to reporters in Chicago, Illinois about protests ahead of the NATO summit.
This May 5, 2012 file photo shows Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (C) speaking to reporters in Chicago, Illinois about protests ahead of the NATO summit.(AFP Photo)

Chicago’s mayor fired the city police chief Tuesday after a graphic video of a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager sparked a week of protests.

Tensions flared after officials released a dashcam video showing police officer Jason Van Dyke -- who has been charged with murder -- shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teenager walked away in October 2014.

“The public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters, branding the deadly shooting “horrifying.”

While Superintendent Garry McCarthy had a “strong” record that “he can be proud of,” Emanuel said the police chief had become a distraction and could no longer effectively implement necessary changes.

The video footage -- among a string of police shootings of black boys or men in the United States -- triggered protests in Chicago and fueled a national debate about racism and the use of deadly force by officers.

Chicago police initially said that McDonald, 17, was high on the hallucinogen PCP, was acting erratically and had lunged at officers with a knife when he was shot dead.

But prosecutors said McDonald made no threatening gestures to justify the use of deadly force.

“The horrifying shooting of Mr. McDonald requires more than words of sadness. It requires that we act and take more concrete steps to prevent such abuses in the future,” Emanuel said in announcing a new task force to improve police accountability.

City officials have come under intense criticism for refusing to release the video until ordered to do so by a judge following a Freedom of Information Act request -- more than a year after the incident.

After spending the Thanksgiving holiday in jail, Van Dyke, 37, was freed on a $1.5 million bail Monday.

It is the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in more than 30 years.

‘White devils’

There have also been accusations of a cover-up amid reports that police investigating the shooting deleted footage from security cameras at a nearby Burger King.

Thousands of protesters barred shoppers from entering stores on Chicago’s upscale Magnificent Mile during the Black Friday extravaganza and smaller demonstrations have disrupted traffic in recent days.

FBI agents on Monday arrested a black student who allegedly threatened to shoot 16 white people at the University of Chicago -- one for each bullet that hit McDonald.

The anonymous online mass shooting threat led the university to close its doors.

Jabari Dean, 21, allegedly admitted to posting the threat when federal agents swooped on his Chicago home. He told investigators that he had deleted the macabre message shortly after posting it, charging papers said.

But a fellow user of the unidentified social media forum where the message was posted had already taken a screen shot of the threat and showed it to the FBI.

“I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same,” the chilling message read.