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Emails Show City Fought To Keep The Laquan McDonald Video Secret

By Kate Shepherd in News on Jan 7, 2016 9:30PM

A still from the video

Just days before Mayor Rahm Emanuel's reelection in the spring of 2015, City of Chicago lawyers were busy trying to keep the Laquan McDonald shooting video quiet, according to recently-released government emails.

Thomas Platt, second-in-command to the city's corporation counsel Stephen Patton, "drafted settlement language to keep the dashcam video hidden for at least several years," according to the Daily Beast. The $5 million settlement deal was finalized the day after Emanuel won reelection in April.

Although Emanuel has insisted that he didn't see the dashcam video before it was released to the public in November, "the emails prove the mayor knew exactly what the footage showed when city lawyers negotiated a deal that would at least delay the video's release," says the Daily Beast.

One attorney for the McDonald estate, Michael Robbins, initially balked at the city's demand to keep the video under wraps for years:

"The provision as drafted, that we maintain the confidentiality, of the materials-principally the dash-cam-video-until the criminal charges are concluded, which could be in effect for years, is entirely unreasonable," Robbins responded to Platt on April 6 (one day before the mayoral reelection) via email. "Nor was any such broad sweeping confidentiality provision discussed during our meetings."

"I'll call you," Platt replied to Robbins on Election Day.

The phone call must have worked because, according to the Daily Beast:

On April 8, one day after Platt’s phone call, the McDonald estate's attorneys suddenly agreed to keep the dash-cam video hidden. The only thing that changed in the settlement agreement regarding the video was the deletion of a line that said the estate agreed with the city releasing video would harm ongoing criminal investigations.

The first details about the negotiations to keep the video concealed were reported by Tribune when the 3,000 pages of emails dropped strategically on New Year's Eve.