In response to a recently released police dashcam video depicting the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department. But unlike presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Sanders also said any elected official, including possibly Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, should resign if involved in suppressing the video or attempting to cover up the fatal shooting.
“I join with those calling for a federal investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department. Futhermore, any official who helped suppress the videotape of Laquan McDonald’s murder should be held accountable. And any elected official with knowledge that the tape was being suppressed or improperly withheld should resign. No one should be shielded by power or position,” Sanders said in a statement released to the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.
After shooting McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014, Officer Jason Van Dyke initially claimed that the teen had lunged at him with a knife in the moments before the shooting. But police and city officials were aware of a dashcam video that recorded the shooting and revealed that McDonald was walking away from the officer when Van Dyke opened fire. Instead of releasing the footage to the public, officials suppressed the video for 13 months.
As the city of Chicago denied multiple requests to release the footage, freelance journalist Brandon Smith filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. When his FOIA request was denied, Smith filed a lawsuit against the city. After Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan found the police department’s claims to withhold the video were unsubstantiated, Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the city to release the footage by no later than November 25.
Within hours of arresting Van Dyke for first-degree murder, the city finally released the police dashcam video on November 24. Hours after the shooting, officers obtained a second video recorded by a nearby Burger King. District Manager Jay Darshane has accused the police of deleting 86 minutes of surveillance video, which recorded the fatal shooting.
On Wednesday, Clinton also called for the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the Chicago Police Department, but she did not demand the resignations of any elected officials involved in suppressing the evidence. Instead of asking President Obama’s former chief of staff to step down, Clinton’s campaign issued a lobotomized statement saying, “She knows Mayor Emanuel loves Chicago, and is sure he wants to do all he can to restore trust in the Chicago Police Department.”
On Friday, Sanders took to Twitter reiterating, “Any elected official with knowledge that the tape was being suppressed or improperly withheld should resign.”