Rifle-Toting Chicago Police Officers Posed For A Photo Over A Suspect With Deer Antlers

by 4 years ago

Court file

There are errors in judgement and then there is what two Chicago police officers did. In quite possibly the worst decision made in years, officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan posed for a photo while standing over an unnamed black suspect wearing antlers.

You’re not going to believe this, but the photo had some negative consequences for the pair.

Believed to have been taken in a West Side police station between 1999 and 2003, the Polaroid photo was given to the city by the feds in 2013 and resulted in McDermott, a clout-heavy cop, being fired last year by the police board in a 5-to-4 vote. The four dissenters said McDermott should only have been suspended. But a majority of the board 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 has been driving a truck to support his family, is now appealing his dismissal in court.

Even though police Supt. Garry McCarthy moved to fire McDermott, attorneys for the police department and McDermott both asked Judge Thomas Allen to keep the photo under seal earlier this year.

They said they wanted to protect the privacy of the unidentified African-American man. Allen denied their request in March. The Sun-Times recently obtained a copy of the photo in the court file.

Federal prosecutors gave the photo to police investigators in 2013 about two years after Finnigan — the notorious other cop in the picture — was sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a crew of rogue cops in robberies, home invasions and other crimes.

…There’s really not much else to say. Pretty awful stuff.

But let’s hear from McDermott’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, who has a completely logical explanation for all of this.

In his closing arguments at the police board hearing, Herbert emphasized the lack of information about where and when the photo was taken — and the mystery surrounding the African-American man’s identity.

“What’s to say this individual wasn’t performing at a Christmas pageant in the district and was dressed as a reindeer and had taken the reindeer suit off? Again, I don’t mean to make preposterous arguments, but the charges in this case, they warrant that,” he said.

Herbert also compared the photo to an episode of “Seinfeld” in which Jerry is wrongly accused of picking his nose.

Herbert said there was strong evidence in the photo that the African-American man was a “willing participant” and was not coerced to pose with antlers. He even questioned whether the guns were really broomsticks carved to look like weapons.

Oh man. That’s solid lawyerin’. Worth every penny, that guy.

[H/T: Chicago Sun-Times]