The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Chicago Judge Releases 'Disgusting' Photo Of Disgraced Cops Posing With Black Man Forced To Wear Antlers

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 27, 2015 3:45PM

Last fall, Chicago police officer Timothy McDermott was fired amid a slew of disturbing misconduct allegations, including a racially-charged photo of him and another cop, Jerome Finnigan, posing with rifles beside a black man forced to lay face-down with deer antlers on his head.

The Sun-Times has just published a copy of that photo, and the image is every bit as ugly and disappointing as one might expect, especially at a time when police departments around the nation face accusations of entrenched racism.

The photo was allegedly staged by the disgraced former police officers (Finnigan is featured at left, McDermott at right) and taken at a West Side police station sometime between 1999 and 2003, presumably while they were assigned to the Special Operations Section. The black man in the photo is unidentified, but the Sun-Times reports that Finnigan told the FBI that the man was arrested for having "20 bags of weed" with him, and was in possession of the rifles used in the image. The photo was allegedly taken on the spur of the moment, and the man was released without charges.

The police department began investigating the photo in late January 2013 "immediately" after receiving it from the FBI, according to Jennifer Rottner, a police spokeswoman. The investigation resulted in McDermott being stripped of his police powers and the department moving to terminate him in March 2014. The Police Board ultimately discharged McDermott in October.

The second officer in the photo, Finnigan, was also terminated by the department and is now serving a 12-year federal prison sentence in Florida after pleading guilty to unrelated charges in a murder-for-hire scheme and income tax evasion, according to Rottner.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy condemned the photo in a statement sent to Chicagoist Wednesday morning:

“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.”

Attorneys for both McDermott and the police department asked Judge Thomas Allen, who presided over the case, to keep the photo sealed, but Allen denied that request in March according to the Sun-Times. McDermott has appealed the ruling that had him fired, and his next court hearing is scheduled for June 10.