Protesters interrupt hearing on Laquan McDonald case at City Hall

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Protesters interrupted a hearing at City Hall Tuesday night where the Chicago Police Department crisis triggered heated and emotional demands.

Members of the Justice Department will meet Wednesday with Interim Supt. John Escalante, who was chief of detectives at the time of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

"We as a department must confront these challenges ahead of us, and in my role I intend to lead us forward," Escalante said.

For more than two hours Tuesday night, Escalante testified before aldermen for more than two hours Tuesday night, and at one point, was interrupted by protesters chanting "16 shots and a cover up! 16 shots and a cover up!"

The all-day hearing included testimony from the new head of the embattled Independent Police Review Authority.

But the most heated exchanges involved the president of the police union.

The rhetoric that comes from here and from the media has really, really kicked these kids while they're down, these officers," said Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Your kids are feeling like they've been kicked while they're down. Well, our kids are getting killed while they're down," said Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward.

"None of the police officers think we're talking about all police officers because that's not what we're doing, but you've got some bad ones out there, and we've got to get rid of them! Them snakes gotta go! We've got to cut their heads off!" said Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward.

There was one ordinance proposed aimed at increasing officer training, including annual instruction in crisis intervention, use-of-force and identifying subjects with mental illness.

There was agreement that policies need to change to encourage officers to seek help for PTSD.

"If you go to a hospital, and you sign yourself in, you lose your weapon. You lose your gun card. You can't be a police officer anymore," Angelo said.

The joint committee did not call the mayor or his corporation counsel to testify. The Emanuel administration's lawyer recommended the $5 million settlement in the McDonald case that the council approved last spring.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez also was asked to testify, but she declined.

"Well, we're not going to hear why it took 13 months for an investigation, we're not going to hear why the indictment was decided to come out the day before the videotape was mandated to be released. We're not going to hear about processes and procedures in her office," said Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, 1st Ward.

Alvarez's spokeswoman Sally Daly issued a statement that said, in part: "Alderman Moreno should be made accountable to explain why he and other city council members sat on their hands and approved a $5 million dollar settlement without viewing the video or demanding its release. Shame on them for virtually ignoring the case when they were in a position to do something about it."

Also Tuesday, several Chicago aldermen who are members of the Chicago Latino Caucus said "excessive and unreasonable force" is not just an issue in the black neighborhoods, but all across Chicago, especially in the Latino communities.
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