One Police Plaza

How Rahm Did In Garry

December 7, 2015

At a major conference of city police chiefs in San Francisco two years ago, ex-Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s phone was constantly ringing. Each time it was his boss, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“This is the fifth call I’ve gotten from him today. This is my life with this guy,” he told a former NYPD colleague attending the conference. “He knows I am out of town. He tortures me. He’s a micromanager. He’s like [Rudy] Giuliani on steroids.”

After the conference, McCarthy took a couple of days to travel north through the wine country with his soon-to-be second wife, whom he had met in Chicago. It was there McCarthy suffered a heart attack.

“This was a healthy man,” said a former top NYPD official. “He worked out every day. He was playing football for the PBA at age 40.” He and other former NYPD colleagues attribute his heart attack, at least in part, to the pressures from Emanuel.

McCarthy was also volatile. In 2005, as an NYPD deputy commissioner, he was arrested, handcuffed and disarmed by a Palisades Parkway police officer after protesting a parking ticket given to his daughter. The incident escalated when his former wife Gina grabbed Garry’s confiscated gun from the arresting officer.

But he was also regarded in the NYPD as an aggressive, intelligent and community-minded officer. “He came up with a program to close off streets to drug dealers,” said a former top NYPD official. “An integral part of the plan involved community cooperation.”

NYPD police sources said McCarthy was blindsided by Emanuel, who fired him last week. During his four-year tenure in Chicago, the sources say, he had repeatedly told his former colleagues in New York, “The mayor has my back.”

The morning of his firing, he was on an early morning TV show, apparently with Emanuel’s approval. An hour or so later, Emanuel fired him, saying he’d lost the trust of the community. “Superintendent McCarthy knows that a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves,” Emanuel said.

McCarthy’s dismissal came days after a judge ordered the release of a police video that shows Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. The video was shot 14 months ago — amid Emanuel’s hard-fought re-election campaign.

The video appeared to contradict police reports that said Van Dyke had feared for his life from the 17-year-old McDonald, who, Van Dyke maintained, was wielding a knife in an “aggressive and exaggerated” manner.

In addition, a Burger King district manager has said police spent hours after the shooting at a nearby Burger King, then deleted 86 minutes from its security camera, including the period when Van Dyke fired the 16 shots at McDonald.

Because of the ongoing furor over police departments’ relationships with black communities across the country, McCarthy’s firing has received national attention. Even President Barack Obama, himself a Chicagoan and for whom Emanuel served as chief of staff at the White House, has weighed in. His spokesman, Josh Earnest, appeared to justify McCarthy’s firing and to support Emanuel, saying, “The mayor has obviously confronted this situation over the course of the last week …. quite directly and already taken some steps to indicate his own commitment.”

Are you kidding me? Perhaps Earnest or the President can explain what “steps” or “commitment” Emanuel has taken, other than firing McCarthy — and protecting himself.


Copyright © 2015 Leonard Levitt