Chicago mayor cuts Cuba vacation short to address weekend police shooting

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday he plans to cut his family vacation in Cuba short and return to the city to work on reforming the Chicago Police Department in wake of another deadly police shooting in which one person was killed by accident when police responded to a domestic disturbance call.

Kelly Quinn, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune Emanuel left for Cuba on Dec. 18 and wasn’t’ expected to return until Saturday but decided to return on Tuesday after officers responding to a domestic disturbance shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and Bettie Jones, 55. Police said Jones was “accidentally” shot.

While Mayor Emanuel has been in constant contact with his staff and Interim Superintendent (John) Escalante, he is cutting his family trip short so that he can continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department," Quinn said in a statement.

The shooting deaths take place days after the Justice Department opened a civil-rights investigation into Chicago police practices. It was the first deadly police shooting since the release of the video footage showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing 19-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.

The pressure has increased on Emanuel ever since the release of the McDonald video. Protests calling for his resignation have occurred daily since November, with critics alleging that Emanuel didn’t release the video over political reasons. McDonald was reelected as the city’s mayor in April.

The mayor has responded with a flurry of activity to stem the outcry, mixing short-term changes and long-term promises, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The changes we have made in recent weeks are just a beginning—not an end,” Emanuel has said.

One of the most vocal critics of Emanuel has been Rev. Al Sharpton who said it was “unbelievable” that Emanuel didn’t return immediately to Chicago after the most recent shooting this past weekend.

“I think he’s gone beyond the point where he can even govern with the trust of the people,” Sharpton said on MSNBC’s “The Morning Joe.” Sharpton also called for Emanuel’s resignation, echoing almost daily protests around the city.

In the last month, Emanuel has fired his police chief and the head of the group that investigates police shootings in Chicago and formed a group to look at how to reform the department.

Emanuel, in all likelihood, will have three more years to get things right in Chicago, despite the out pour of anger in the city. The Wall Street Journal reported the city doesn’t have a process to recall him.

The mayor’s former political director, Thomas Bowen, told the Journal Emanuel is responding to the growing concerns of residents and people see him taking action.

“They see their political figures responding to the problem,” Bowen added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Click for more from the Chicago Tribune.