Emanuel acknowledged that the first step on the journey of rebuilding trust in police within the community was for the city to confront his failings, and that the first step to take was his. He then apologized.
“The first step on that journey is my step,” he said. “And I’m sorry.”
The mayor’s approval ratings have fallen to 35%, the lowest they have ever been, amidst the Justice Department announcing an investigation into the city’s police force on Monday. In May, his approval rating was at 50%.
“No officer should be allowed to behave as if they’re above the law just because they are responsible for upholding the law,” he said. “Permitting and protecting even the smallest acts of abuse, by a tiny fraction of our officers, leads to a culture where extreme acts of abuse are more likely, just like what happened to Laquan McDonald.”
The announcement of the civil rights investigation came nearly two weeks after the video of a white police officer shooting the black teen 16 times was ordered released by a judge. Officer Jason Van Dyke has now been charged with first-degree murder, and the department has came under fire for claiming that the teen had charged at officers with a knife — while the video clearly shows otherwise.
After unloading his gun into the young man, who appeared to pose no immediate threat, the officer continued to fire on his crumpled, lifeless body as it was on the ground. The video does not contain any sound, which the department has yet to explain.
Following the release, and allegations of the police deleting footage of the shooting from the security cameras of a nearby Burger King, Emanuel forced the head of the department, Garry McCarthy, to resign.
On Wednesday, Emanuel also recalled a recent conversation that he had with a black resident who asked him if he believed that the police would treat the two men the same in similar situations.
“The answer is no,” Emanuel said. “And that is wrong. And that has to change in this city. That has to come to an end, an end now. No citizen is a second-class citizen in the city of Chicago.”