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Ex-Prosecutor Denounces Laquan McDonald Video Delay, Praises McCarthy Firing

Hannah Meisel
Illinois Public Radio

A former prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's office says it took far too long to investigate the shooting death of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald at the hands of a white police officer. 

That prosecutor happens to be running for U.S. Senate.

Democrat Andrea Zopp is praising Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to fire police superintendent Garry McCarthy, one week after the city charged the officer who shot McDonald 16 times and released the dashcam video of the shooting.

It took 400 days — and a lawsuit — before the video was released. The city says the investigation into the officer held up the release.

Zopp, who says she prosecuted a similar officer shooting case during her time in the Cook County state's attorney's office, says that's unacceptable.

"The 13-month delay between ... Laquan McDonald's killing and the charges was too long, and it's not been explained. In my view, it's unexplainable," she said during a campaign stop on the University of Illinois' Urbana campus Tuesday. "I just don't think the delay was necessary and I think it undercut the community's belief in the criminal justice system, which I think is the real issue."

Zopp spent seven years at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and seven at the U.S. Attorney's Office. Before running for Senate, Zopp was the CEO of the Chicago Urban League, where she says she saw the intertwined nature of inequality and criminal justice at close range.

Zopp says Supt. McCarthy's leadership had "come into question" recently, reaching a fever pitch last week as protesters called for his resignation in the wake of the video's release.

While other leaders also have called for the ouster of State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Zopp says the March primary should let voters decide on that position.

Zopp's main primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, also had called for McCarthy's resignation.

Meisel works for Capitol News Illinois.