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Chicago Mayor: 'I'm Sorry' for Police Problems


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a special City Council meeting that he called to discuss a police abuse scandal, Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a special City Council meeting that he called to discuss a police abuse scandal, Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized Wednesday for the brutal police shooting of a black teenager last year, but protesters continued to demand that he resign.

"I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch," Emanuel said as he choked back tears at a special City Council meeting. "But if we're also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step. And I'm sorry."

The mayor said it was unacceptable that some Chicago police officers treat blacks, particularly young men, differently than whites. He also said he regretted that black parents tell their children to be wary of police.

Rahm said no one who lives in Chicago is a "second-class citizen."

Better training of officers was among the police department reform Emanuel promised. Other steps included a special panel to investigate internal police practices; the reopening of closed cases of police shootings found to have been justified; and a search for a new police superintendent.

Among the systemic problems with police, Emanuel aimed particular criticism at the "code of silence" that keeps police officers from reporting misconduct by fellow officers.

Emanuel's words drew applause from council members, but they appeared to have little effect on Chicago residents, black and white, who marched through the city's main shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile to demand that the mayor quit.

Lamon Reccord is taken into custody by Chicago police officers during a march calling for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign, Dec. 9, 2015.

Lamon Reccord is taken into custody by Chicago police officers during a march calling for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign, Dec. 9, 2015.

Protesters outside City Hall chanted "16 shots and a cover-up" and also called for the resignation of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has been criticized for taking more than a year to charge white Officer Jason Van Dyke in the 2014 shooting of black youth Laquan McDonald.

Police car video of the incident shows Van Dyke firing at McDonald, 17, when the youth appeared to be walking away from police. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, with some of the bullets fired even while the teen was writhing on the ground.

Van Dyke was fired and has been charged with first-degree murder. Police Chief Garry McCarthy resigned.

Many of the protesters who marched downtown Wednesday alleged that police were trying to cover up the circumstances of the shooting. Newly released police documents said McDonald was much more threatening and unstable than he appeared in the video.

High-profile killings of young black men by mainly white police officers in U.S. cities have prompted a national debate and protests about the use of excessive force by police.

The U.S. Justice Department said Monday that it would launch a civil rights investigation of Chicago's police department, examining its use of force, including deadly force, among other issues.

Also on Wednesday, a federal judge said he would rule by January 14 on whether to release video in the shooting death of another black teen.

The mother of Cedrick Chatman, 17, has sued Chicago over his death on January 7, 2013. The city has opposed release of video in the case.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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