The Wall Street Journal published a biting editorial today, calling on the Justice Department to investigate Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s role in the suppression of the video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The shooting, almost a year ago, was taped by police video cameras but the city refused to release the video until ordered to do so by a judge. The title of the editorial: “The Chicago Fire.” Protestors will not be ameliorated by a half-hearted investigation that protects the mayor from scrutiny.

 

 

 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week that the Justice Department will investigate whether Chicago police “engaged in a pattern or practice of violation of the Constitution or federal law.” We hope Justice will also investigate whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city officials prevented the release of a videotape of the shooting for political reasons.

 

In October 2014 officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald multiple times. Though a police car’s dashcam recorded the confrontation, the videotape was kept from public view until a judge ordered its release in a lawsuit. City officials, who had likely seen the video, echoed the police line of self-defense that now seems suspect.

 

The episode has roiled Chicago. On Wednesday an emotional Mayor Emanuel tried to defuse the tension by issuing a public apology and acknowledging the problems with a police force that embraces a culture of silence. “I should have given voice to the public’s growing suspicions, distrust and anger,” Mr. Emanuel said. “My voice is supposed to be their voice.” Protesters demanded his resignation.

 

According to the Better Government Association, the city has spent more than $521 million over 10 years defending and settling excessive-force lawsuits against the Police Department. Between 2010 and 2014 the police killed 70 people, the most of any big city. Since 2007 the city’s Independent Police Review Authority has investigated almost 400 shootings and categorized only one as unjustified….

 

In DNAInfo Chicago, columnist Mark Konkol reported last week that Mr. Emanuel’s corporation counsel Stephen Patton blocked police reforms pushed by former police chief Garry McCarthy, whom Mr. Emanuel appointed in 2011. Mr. McCarthy wanted to give the police chief the power to discipline or fire officers accused of misconduct or of keeping a “code of silence” and to make misconduct investigations more transparent….

 

 

While Justice investigates the cops, the answers about the role of City Hall are most likely to come from the investigation by the U.S. Attorney, who has been looking into the case since not long after the shooting. The failure to release a video for political reasons may not be a crime, but City Hall’s complicity in any cover-up will leave lasting scars. Mr. Emanuel will have to answer for the consequences.