Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that there will be an outside review of the Federal Civil Rights Litigation division of the city’s law department.
The announcement follows a city attorney’s resignation for concealing evidence in a police shooting case. It also comes just two days after the mayor said there was no need for the justice department to investigate.
A judge ruled that city lawyer Jordan Marsh knowingly concealed evidence and made misleading comments in a lawsuit over a fatal police shooting in 2011.
Emanuel told reporters twice this week that there’s “zero tolerance” for what Marsh did. But Emanuel’s position on the next steps for the law department have changed over the course of the week. On Tuesday, Emanuel said it wasn’t necessary for the Department of Justice to add the city’s Law Department to its current investigation into the Chicago police department.
Thursday, he switched it up. Emanuel now says if federal investigators showed up he’d “cooperate” with them. But he didn’t call for them himself.
“I, as mayor, don’t direct the justice department,” Emanuel said.
He also added that the city’s corporation counsel will soon release details about a “third party” investigation into the Federal Civil Rights Litigation division of the Law Department.
“Steve Patton in quick order is gonna have a third party — independent entity — look at that division, make sure everybody’s clear about the professional standards,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel’s changing position mirrors other public comments he’s made since the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video. At first, Emanuel said the Justice Department did not need to investigate the Chicago Police Department, but then later said he would welcome them.
Thursday’s comments came at the ribbon cutting for the new Malcolm X College campus on the West Side - one of two good news press conferences Emanuel has attended this week, which has become a rarity for the mayor lately.
Emanuel was asked if this was part of an effort to score points or reclaim trust in the African American community, a point the mayor disputed.
“Today, you know, the building is done, so you traditionally cut a ribbon. It’s not about me earning points, it’s about making sure the kids of Chicago…the students..they’re earning a good paying job and a good career.”
On Tuesday, Emanuel announced the expansion of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Second Chance program, which helps ex-offenders find employment and job training. He invited long-time congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, African American leaders who are well respected in their communities.
But Davis said he didn’t feel used, especially since this was a program he was passionate about.
“In politics,” Davis said. “You make use of every opportunity.”
Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ Follow her @laurenchooljian.