CHICAGO -- The deadly shooting involving Chicago police officers over the weekend has quickly become a hot button issue in the race for mayor.
37-year-old Harith Augustus was shot and killed during a confrontation with officers in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood Saturday.
In an unprecedented move, police released body cam video within 24 hours of the shooting to stop the rumors and unrest. The video showed the gun, holster and ammo clip on Augustus’s belt.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel made his first public statement about the incident Tuesday.
Emanuel did not want to comment directly on what was seen on the body cam video. Instead he took the time to urge people to be patient as the investigation into Saturday’s shooting continues.
In an effort to calm the tension, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson ordered the release of a portion of one of the police body cam videos that capture the shooting.
“In the past the tapes got held,” Emanuel said. “The superintendent made the right decision. I fully support for public safety. Protest got calmer because a lot more questions got answered.”
But Emanuel’s opponents in the upcoming election have a lot to say about the shooting and the protests that followed.
Candidate and community activist Ja’mal Green said he urged Supt. Johnson to release the video, but he says there also needs to be audio.
“I see that there were wrong on both sides in that video,” Green said. “But I want to see why they even approached him in the first place, what the conversation before-hand and how did it get to end so tragically.”
Green said the shooting proves his idea to have police do community service in the areas they will be working would go a long way in building trust
Candidate Lori Lightfoot said she also believes it was a wise decision, but as a former police shooting investigator and the former head of the police board, she questioned the actions of some of the police officers during the protests and is calling on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to investigate that too.
Lightfoot called for COPA’s investigation to be swift.
“I think there’s very serious questions that have to be raised about supervision, or lack there of, and the kinds of equipment that was used,” she said. “I saw a number of wooden batons. The fact that police strategy and tactics seemed to be missing.”
Former police superintendent Garry McCarthy said at first blush, the shooting seems justified. But “we’re not going to create trust by wearing body cameras. I think this is a classic example because now the department takes an exceptional step and releases the video immediately. And it’s not good enough. Why is there no audio? Why is it edited?”
McCarthy said nothing is going to change until we address the socio-economic issues is this country and we have a difficult conversation about race.
But Emanuel touted the fact that every police officer now has a body camera. His focus was on getting Chicagoans to respect each others differences.
“Rather than going into our respective corners, is to try to come together and hear each other, lower our voices and listen a little more,” he said. “so in the future we are smarter. We’re safer. We’re stronger.”