CHICAGO -- An offensive photo taken a decade ago has cost a Chicago police officer his job.
Now it has gone public as he fights to get his job back.
The police department reportedly fought to keep this photo from being released. And now that it’s out, it couldn’t come at a worse time as they work to repair its relationship with the African-American community. But the lawyer for one of the officer’s in the photo says it’s not always what it looks like.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy calls it disgusting. He issued a statement saying:
This picture is disgusting, and the despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society. As the Superintendent of this department, and as a resident of our city, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today. I fired one of the officers, and would have fired the other if he hadn't already been fired by the time I found out about the picture. which is why I fired the officer involved as soon as I learned about photo. Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the photo was taken at a West Side police station sometime between 1999 and 2003. The image shows two officers, Timothy
McDermott and Jerome Finnigan, kneeling over the black man. The black man in the photo has not been identified. Police say he was drug suspect but McDermott’s lawyer says there’s no evidence to prove it.
The photo was given to the city by federal prosecutors in 2013. That was two years after their investigation which lead to Finnigan being sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a crew of rogue cops in robberies, home invasions and other crimes. McDermott was fired last year after the photo came to light.
He is now appealing and trying to get his job back. In a statement his attorney writes the photo appears to depict an offensive and distasteful image, “however photographs alone do not always tell the whole story. These charges were based on mere assumptions, not on fact. The superintendent bore the burden of proof and it failed to meet its burden. We are confident the court will recognize this fact and rule in our favor.”
The judge is expected to rule on his appeal request next month.
Full Attorney Statement
The photo appears to depict an offensive and distasteful image; however photographs alone do not always tell the whole story. These charges were based on mere assumptions; not on fact. The Superintendent bore the burden of proof and it failed to meet its burden. We are confident the Court will recognize this fact and rule in our favor.
The City failed to produce the original photo at the hearing. Instead they used a photo of a photo. There was no explanation as to when it was taken; where it was taken; or by whom it was taken. There was no identification of the African American depicted in the photo. The City argued that this person was an arrestee; however the City’s own evidence proved the opposite to be true and McDermott was found Not Guilty of those charges. For unexplained reasons, the City insisted that the individual had to be an arrestee and therefore he must have been maltreated by these officers. However, the evidence proves otherwise. Simply put, there needs to be more to justify terminating a person such as Tim who has had a remarkable career and never once been disciplined in over 20 years of service.