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Emails Show Emanuel Aides Discussed Laquan McDonald Video Last Year

By Kate Shepherd in News on Dec 15, 2015 6:09PM

Calls for Rahm to resign are trending on Twitter and in the streets (Photo by Braden Nesin/Chicagoist)

It took 13 months for Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to be charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDoanld 16 times. The question on everyone's mind now, when it comes to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Who knew what, and when?

NBC5 has uncovered that City Hall was discussing the shooting video in emails months before its release, according to emails obtained by NBC through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Senior Emanuel administration aides were sending and receiving emails about the video long before the mayor claims he was fully briefed on it. The documents can be viewed on NBC's site.

On Dec. 9, 2014, Emanuel's Chief of Staff Lisa Schrader distributed a Crain's Chicago Business article about the McDonald shooting, titled: "If Chicago police have video of teen shooting, let's see it: advocates." She sent it to spokeswoman Kelley Quinn, senior aide David Spiefogel, and Matt Hynes, a former top strategist for the mayor who left City Hall in June 2014.

On Jan. 20, 2015, deputy corporation counsel Thomas Platt sent his boss Steve Patton an email with the subject line: "Fatal Shooting on video, 4000 South Pulaski". The body of Platt's message to Patton was blacked out by the city.

Later that evening, Patton sent Schrader and Deputy Chief of Staff Janey Rountree an email marked: "Attorney Client Privileged and Confidential." Patton wrote "FYI" and Schrader responded with "Thanks" two hours later.

It was the same day that Emanuel announced plans to hire 350 new police officers and a police body camera pilot program.

The city approved a $5 million settlement to the McDonald family after the mayor's reelection in April but it's not exactly clear when Emanuel first learned about the shooting or video. He told Chicago Tonight last week that Patton was the first person to give him a description of it.

His office issued this statement on the emails to NBC5:

"As we have said, the Mayor's office staff was aware of the McDonald case -- and the federal and state criminal investigations that had been launched -- and was following a policy that had been in place for years by not releasing video evidence during a criminal investigation. The Mayor has been clear that this longstanding policy needs to be revised, and has asked that the task force review this policy and make recommendations for a new path forward."

These aren't the first interesting City Hall emails that Carol Marin's investigative team at NBC5 have uncovered through FOIA requests. They reported last week on emails that show Emanuel's press office was aware of the possibility of a McDonald dash cam video on Dec. 8, 2014.