Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel cuts short vacation after latest police shooting of black citizens
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under increasing pressure for the police department’s use of deadly force after the fatal shooting of two black citizens over the weekend, said on Monday he would cut his family vacation to Cuba short to return to the city.
The police force in the nation’s third-largest city is already under federal investigation over its use of deadly force, and activists have called for Emanuel’s resignation.
“While Mayor Emanuel has been in constant contact with his staff and Interim Superintendent (John) Escalante, he is cutting his family trip short so that he can continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department,” said the mayor’s spokeswoman, Kelley Quinn.
Emanuel is set to arrive back in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, she said.
One victim’s family is expected to seek video footage of the shootings, which occurred early on Saturday, in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what happened, according to its attorney.
The release of a Chicago police video last month of the fatal shooting of a black teenager, which had been withheld for more than a year, led to the resignation of the city’s police chief and the start of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the city’s police use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.
High-profile killings of black men by police officers since mid-2014 have triggered waves of protest, including in Chicago, and fueled a civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.
The latest police shootings killed Bettie Jones, 55, and college student Quintonio LeGrier, 19. Family members said police were called after LeGrier, who had mental health issues, threatened his father with a metal baseball bat.
Police said LeGrier was being combative, but have admitted that Jones, who lived on the first-floor of the building, was shot by accident and offered condolences.
The embattled mayor issued a statement on Sunday calling for a review of the police Crisis Intervention Team and better guidance for officers when dealing with mental health cases.
“There are serious questions about yesterday’s shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation,” his statement said.
The previous killing of 17-year-old black teen Laquan McDonald in October 2014, which was captured on the video released last month, has led to multiple protests and calls for Emanuel’s resignation.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Emanuel should step down in an interview on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program on Monday, adding that he wondered why Emanuel had stayed in Cuba, before Emanuel said he was returning.
“I’ve never seen this kind of detachment in the years that I’ve been fighting, whether I got along with the mayor or not,” he said.
Supporters of the victims’ families made their own protest against the mayor on Sunday, some wearing t-shirts reading ‘Rahm Failed Us,’ and several speakers at a media conference demanding to know why police used lethal force.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Monday he did not know if there was video of the shooting.
However, attorney Larry Rogers Jr., representing Jones’ family, said at a prayer vigil on Sunday that there may be a video from a house under construction across the street, along with possible police footage.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, Dave McKinney and Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Bill Rigby)