A group of retired Chicago police officers on Wednesday joined calls for a federal probe into the Chicago Police Department's practices following the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
"We’re not here today to bash anyone, we’re not here today to start an uproar. We’re here to get justice," said former officer Richard Wooten.
The group called for investigations into the police department as well as the Independent Police Review Authority, the organization tasked with investigating allegations of police misconduct.
The officers' calls come one day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chicago Urban League asked for the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to investigate the department's practices.
One retired Chicago police sergeant claimed during the Wednesday news conference that the alleged misconduct seen in the city’s police department during the McDonald case “has been going on for years."
The only difference now, he says, is that it is being caught on camera.
“You have unions that, whenever there's a police shooting, they give you a story that makes the public think in every case of a policeman shooting someone that a male black subject was running down the street holding his pants and he turned around and aimed a gun at a policeman,” said retired sergeant Michael Davis. “Never in my career have I chased someone who had a gun and they turned around and aimed at me. You chase someone with a gun, they're going to run and throw that gun away.”
Davis, speaking with the group of retired African American police officers, many of whom worked in the department for decades, warned that there have been other shootings in the city “worse than the shooting of Laquan.”
McDonald was fatally shot 16 times by an officer in October 2014. Police initially said the officer involved in the shooting, who has since been charged with first-degree murder, was defending himself and that McDonald lunged at him with a knife. Dashcam video released last month, however, showed the teen apparently walking away from officers when he was shot.
On Tuesday, one week after the dashcam video's release, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, saying he had “become an issue rather than dealing with the issue.” Emanuel also announced the creation of a police accountability task force.
“We don't need mayors and the so-called Independent Police Review Authority covering up for these guys and this panel the mayor created is more of the same,” Davis said.
His statement was echoed by other officers in the group.
Davis noted that there are “thousands of excellent officers, but a few criminal policemen on the streets.”
“There are a lot of policemen who want to speak out on this,” he said. “As policemen there are orders that you cannot violate, one of them is bringing attention to something in the police department that casts them in a negative light. The unions and some other policemen would view them with contempt. As retired police officers, we don’t have to be silent. We can tell you the truth.”