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Chicago Releases Police Videos Of Alleged Cases Of Excessive Force

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority has released hundreds of videos from cases where police officers have killed or injured citizens.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, my God.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON: And that clip is from a video of an off-duty officer who punched Terrence Clarke in the face at a restaurant. Videos from dash cams, surveillance cameras and cellphones, as well as audio recordings and police reports - the release comes after it tooks more - took more than a year to release the video of the shooting of a 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. Carol Marin joins us now. She's political editor at NBC 5 and a columnist at The Chicago Sun-Times. Carol, thanks so much for being with us.

CAROL MARIN: My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: And what prompts the Police Review Authority to make such an enormous release of videos?

MARIN: I think it was, without question, the enormous controversy over the shooting of LaQuan McDonald, the 17-year-old in 2014 who was gunned down with 16 bullets by one officer. There was a video that the city fastidiously refused to release, saying it would compromise the investigation.

There was a mayoral election going on at the same time where Rahm Emanuel had an opponent. There became real questions nationally - from Ferguson, Mo., to other places - of excessive police force. And all of that culminated into a firestorm that finally resulted in this release.

SIMON: And we'll note the Chicago Patrolmen's Union has criticized this mass release of videos, saying that because most of the cases have not been adjudicated, they say it might make it harder for anybody, citizen or police, to get a fair trial. How did the Review Board address that concern?

MARIN: The Review Board believes and argues that the transparency that they are demonstrating is a counterweight of greater value and significance at a time when the police do not have citizen trust, when the administration that runs the police department does not have citizen trust. And so IPRA, the Independent Police Review Board, has basically said that this is a first step, and a necessary one, and will evaluate from there.

SIMON: The LaQuan McDonald case has really shaken Chicago politics, hasn't it, with Mayor Emanuel's approval rating, the state's attorney being defeated in the Democratic primary. What's the effect been?

MARIN: Profound. I mean, it has resulted in the mayor having to fire his police chief, hire a new one. The mayor had to form a police accountability task force. They were scathing about the racism they found in the police department. He had to reform the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigated police shootings.

And now he's eliminating it in behalf of a more progressive model that he says he will announce shortly. This has been a disaster for Rahm Emanuel and a disaster for the Chicago Police Department. And so this is an attempt to do the right thing and turn a critical corner.

SIMON: Carol Marin, political editor and columnist. Thanks so much for being with us again, Carol.

MARIN: My pleasure, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.