Chicago creates police task force after officer charged with murder

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  • Rahm Emanuel
    Rahm Emanuel
    Mayor of Chicago

By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced the creation of a police accountability task force following days of unrest over the alleged murder of a black teenager by a white policeman. The announcement came a week after the officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times. "The shooting of Laquan McDonald requires more than just words," Emanuel said in a statement. "It requires that we act; that we take more concrete steps to prevent such abuses in the future, secure the safety and the rights of all Chicagoans, and build stronger bonds of trust between our police and the communities they're sworn to serve." Emanuel, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, have faced stiff criticism for taking 13 months to release a video of the 2014 shooting and to charge Van Dyke. Protests followed the charging and arrest of Van Dyke and the release of the video on Nov. 24. In a protest on Monday, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Cornell William Brooks, was one of several protesters arrested, the organization said. Emanuel said the new task force, which will be advised by former Massachusetts Governor and Chicago native Deval Patrick, will review the system of accountability, oversight and training in the police department. Patrick also served as U.S. Assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Bill Clinton. The five-member panel will recommend reforms to improve independent oversight of police misconduct, ensure officers with repeated complaints are evaluated and establish a process for release of videos of police-involved incidents, Emanuel said. Its recommendations will be presented to the mayor and city council by March 31, 2016. The video released a week ago shows Van Dyke gunning down McDonald, 17, in the middle of a street on Oct. 20, 2014 as McDonald was walking away from police who had confronted him. Van Dyke, 37, was released from jail on Monday after posting bond on a $1.5 million bail. High-profile killings of black men at the hands of mainly white law enforcement officials in U.S. cities over the past two years have prompted demonstrations across the country, and have stoked a national debate on race relations and police tactics. (Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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