Chicago Police Took 'Hunting' Photograph With Black Man As Prey

One officer recently dismissed while the other was jailed years ago.

An Illinois judge has released a long-concealed picture that shows two Chicago police officers posing over an unidentified black man in antlers while holding rifles as if he had been hunted.

The photo, which was given to police by federal prosecutors in 2013, was made public for the first time on Wednesday by Cook county Judge Thomas Allen. It was taken sometime between 1998 and 2003 at the Harrison police district station on the west side.

This station is a mile south of Homan Square, the facility where the Guardian earlier this year identified alleged police misconduct and torture as well as other civil rights violations.

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Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy – who last week at a police board meeting deferred any questions about Homan Square brought up by citizens to police legal counsel – called the photo “disgusting”.“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.”

Jerome Finnigan, on the left, was fired long before the photo was given to the city. He was sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison for income tax evasion and robbery. But the photo is the direct cause of Timothy McDermott’s firing in 2014 by the police board in a 5-to-4 vote.

While board dissenters thought McDermott should be suspended, the majority wrote that “appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience”.

McDermott, who asked the judge to keep the photo under seal, is appealing against his dismissal in court, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In May Chicago became the first city in the nation to pass a reparations ordinancegiving financial restitution, access to city colleges and a memorial, among other things, to victims of police torture under Chicago police commander Jon Burge. The package passed almost a week after it came to light that the city had paid out more than half of a billion dollars for police misconduct in the past decade.

On the day it won unanimously in a city council vote, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said its passage would “bring this dark chapter of Chicago’s history to a close”.

Zach Stafford is a writer currently living in Chicago. He is the co-editor of Boys, An Anthology. Follow him on Twitter at @zachstafford.