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A decade-old photograph featuring White cops and a Black man dressed in antlers has resurfaced after the Chicago Police Department fought to keep it from the public’s eyes, The Chicago Sun-Times reports.

A Cook County judge ordered the release of the photo that features the cops — identified as Officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan — ignoring claims that police wanted to protect the unidentified Black man in the hunting-inspired photograph. Police say the man in the photograph was a drug suspect, the Sun-Times writes.

The photo came into question just two years ago when federal prosecutors turned it over to the police department. Amid a national climate of distrust following numerous incidents of documented racism and brutality against marginalized communities, the photo is adding insult to injury.

From The Sun-Times:

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.”

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.

The other police officer in question, Jerome Finnigan, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “leading a crew of rogue cops in robberies, home invasions and other crimes,” the Sun-Times writes.

The photo was given to federal prosecutors in 2013, two years after Finnigan was sent to prison. When asked about the photograph, Finnigan told prosecutors that the Black man in the photograph provided them with the rifles pictured. He also mentioned that the man was arrested for having 20 bags of marijuana, although the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs was unable to confirm the arrest.

Finnigan told the FBI an arrest report was not filed, as the man did not have a serious criminal background. The photo, he explained, was taken “in the spur of the moment.” McDermott, however, said he could not remember taking the photograph. “I am embarrassed by my participation in this photograph,” McDermott said in an interview with internal affairs in 2013. “I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in.”

In a statement to the Sun-Times, McCarthy called the photograph “disgusting.”

“…the despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society. 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,” he said. “I fired one of the officers and would have fired the other if he hadn’t already been fired by the time I found out about the picture. Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department.”

McDermott is appealing his dismissal in court. His lawyer, Daniel Herbert, has compared the photo to an episode of “Seinfeld,” where Jerry is wrongly accused of picking his nose, the Sun-Times notes. He also says there’s “strong evidence” the Black man in question was a “willing participant” in the photograph.

SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter


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