For more than four years, Mayor Emanuel stood by his police superintendent, even remaining loyal to him last week when the Laquan McDonald video was released. Emanuel said the firing wasn't over McCarthy's performance, but that he had become a "distraction."
"This morning I formally asked Supt. McCarthy for his resignation," Emanuel said at a news conference announcing a newly-formed task force on police accountability. He said while he was grateful for McCarthy's service, it is an "undeniable fact that the public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded."
"Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership to confront the challenges the department and our community and our city are facing," Emanuel said.
Emanuel said First Deputy John Escalante will serve as acting superintendent while a search for McCarthy's replacement is conducted. Escalante is a 29-year veteran of the department who was named Deputy Superintendent in October 2015. He also served as chief of the detective division, as well as commander of the 14th District.
Several members of the Chicago City Council Black Caucus are recommending former First Deputy Al Wysinger as the next superintendent.
"Everyone feels comfortable with him doing a good job, he worked in some of the roughest neighborhoods and still had the respect of the community," said Ald. Walter Burnett, 28th Ward.
GRAPHIC VIDEO: Click here to watch the full, 6-minute, unedited video as released by the Chicago Police Department
McCarthy came under fire following the release of dash-cam video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder last week. He is now out on bond.
VIDEO: McCarthy on ABC7 Eyewitness News This Morning
WHEN DID McCARTHY KNOW HE WAS OUT?
Just hours before the announcement that McCarthy was dismissed, the former police superintendent was making the rounds on morning television news shows, talking about the Laquan McDonald shooting and praising Mayor Emanuel's task force plan. As a guest on Eyewitness News This Morning just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, he also said emphatically that he would not resign.
ABC7's Judy Hsu asked: "Should you resign, will you resign?
"Well, no, I'm not going to resign. I'm not going to give up on the city, I'm not going to give up on the good people of Chicago and I'm certainly not going to give up on the Chicago police department," McCarthy said. "I believe absolutely that there is a very large sector of the community who supports me. I hear it all day long, every single day. Honestly. Every place I go, people are saying things like, 'Stay strong. Stay tough. We've got your back.'"
Hsu asked: "So you think you're doing a good job with the department?"
"I'm doing the best job I can do, let's put it that way," McCarthy said.
ABC7's Terrell Brown asks: "And you're not resigning?"
McCarthy went on to say that citizen complaints against police have dropped considerably over the past four years that he has been leading the police department and said that in the past, he had talked to the mayor about having accountability for the department, but not enough authority.
McCARTHY'S CAREER IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
McCarthy's tenure as Chicago's top cop lasted just over four years, but his time in law enforcement started when he was 22 years old.
In 1981, McCarthy joined the New York Police Department. He rose through the ranks, starting as a patrolman, then precinct commander, and then deputy commissioner.
He held that position until 2006, when he took over as the police director in Newark, New Jersey.
Then in May 2011, shortly after Mayor Emanuel took office, he hired McCarthy as police superintendent to replacing Jody Weis.
In 2012, just over a year after coming to Chicago, McCarthy faced one of his first big challenges as Chicago's top cop: the NATO Summit. He was actually praised for a job well done, managing thousands of protestors during the two-day conference of world leaders.
ALVAREZ SAYS SHE PLANS TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION
The release of the video led to protests around the city and the call for McCarthy, Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign. On Tuesday night, ABC7 asked Alvarez if not running for re-election had crossed her mind.
"It has not. I fully intend to run for re-election, I've filed my petitions and I'm going," Alvarez said with conviction after an appearance on WTTW's Chicago Tonight.
Alvarez was also asked if she spoke with City Hall about the delayed release of the Laquan Mcdonald video.
"I had no conversations with the mayor about this investigation at all. My conversations were with the U.S. Attorney, my assistant state's attorneys who were working this case, and the FBI," Alvarez said.
The FBI is still conducting its investigation. Alvarez said that with more than two decades of prosecution experience, she's ready to move ahead.
"I always have a professional relationship with whoever is in that spot so I look forward to working with Escalante now," Alvarez said.
Alvarez lost some major supporters on Tuesday, including Representative Luis Guiterrez. Her office also told Eyewitness News a fundraiser scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.