Despite Promise, Chicago Seeks Delay in Releasing Police Video

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In the fallout from the Laquan McDonald shooting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted a new policy requiring that videos of shootings by police be released within three months, calling it a shift toward transparency for a city that long fought to keep evidence of wrongdoing by officers hidden from the public. Now, a little more than a year later, Emanuel’s top lawyer has agreed for the first time to delay the release of a video of a police shooting beyond the 90-day limit set by the city’s own policy, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Cook County prosecutor sought the delay, arguing that releasing the video would jeopardize the right of Dwane Rowlett to a fair trial on charges he faces after police shot him early this year. Rowlett’s lawyer said he and prosecutors plan to seek a court order that could keep the video from public view even longer. The lack of disclosure comes amid uncertainty over the future of police reform in Chicago. Emanuel has pledged to continue seeking reforms, but President Trump’s administration has eased pressure on big-city police forces that are facing federal scrutiny.

Emanuel took heated criticism for fighting to keep that video hidden for more than a year before a judge ordered its release. His policy requires that audio and video from shootings and other clashes involving officers be made public within 90 days, saying the city “will not honor any further requests to delay release beyond the initial request.” Yet the city agreed to an additional 30-day extension beyond the 90 days in connection with Rowlett’s Jan. 1 shooting. Sergio Acosta, a former federal prosecutor who helped create the policy, said it would be “problematic” if the city returns to blocking videos for months because of ongoing investigations.

 

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