Court affirms dismissal of policeman who was fired after posing in racist photo
Former Chicago Police Department officers Jerome Finnigan (left) and Timothy McDermott (right) pose with an unidentified suspect. (Photo obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times from a court filing.)
Chicago cop who was fired last year for helping to stage a racist photo is out of the police force for good.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Tim Allen on Wednesday upheld the Chicago Police Board’s firing of Timothy McDermott, one of two officers who posed for a racially charged photo that features two white officers with rifles holding a black detainee wearing deer antlers.
photograph is the case,” Allen said, according to ABC Chicago. “There’s nothing else. Plain and simple.”
McDermott appealed the board’s October 2014 decision to fire him, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Police Board, and will have the option to appeal again in light of Allen’s decision.
Daniel Herbert, McDermott’s attorney, told the Chicago Tribune his client did plan on appealing the judge’s decision, and argued that firing was too harsh of a punishment.
“Terminating this officer for a 10-second decision in his life is not fair and it’s unwarranted,” Herbert said before Allen’s ruling.
“I spent 17 years serving and protecting the citizens of Chicago in every neighborhood,” McDermott said Wednesday. “I loved every minute of it. I am fully prepared to continue this fight for my job.”
Jerome Finnigan, the other officer pictured in the photo, was fired from the department in 2011 after separate charges were brought against him alleging that he carried out robberies and home invasions and even ordered a hit on a fellow officer who he believed would snitch on him. Finnigan is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence, The Associated Press reports.
The FBI discovered the photo while investigating Finnigan. The photo is undated, but is believed to have been taken between 1999 and 2003, when Finnigan and McDermott were both members of the disgraced — and now disbanded — elite unit known as Special Operations Sector.
Earlier this year, Allen denied a request to keep the photo sealed. It was later obtained from a court filing by the Chicago Sun-Times, which released the image in late May.
“The fact that a police officer who was involved in the incident now wants his job back is reason enough to run the photograph,” the newspaper explained in a message to readers when it ran the photo. “This is an ongoing news story, not just about one officer's career but about how a big-city police department commits itself — to this day — to the highest professional standards. For us to hold the photo back would have been no more defensible than the police holding it back.”
Finnigan told authorities that he and McDermott had arrested the black man who posed as a hunting trophy on suspicion of drug possession, according to the Sun-Times. He also said it was that man who provided the rifles used in the photo.
Last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel voiced his approval of the Chicago Police Board’s decision to fire McDermott and Finnigan.
“You don’t belong in the Police Department,” Emanuel said of the former officers. “The police department is there to serve and protect, and the values expressed in that photo are not the values of the people of the city of Chicago.”
“As far as I’m concerned, good riddance,” the mayor added.
McDermott told the department’s internal affairs division in 2013 that the photo was a mistake and that he now regrets it, according to the Tribune.
“I was asked to join the photo and I did so without exercising proper judgment,” McDermott was quoted as saying. “I made a mistake as a young impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in. I wish I could go back and change this split second decision. Huff Post
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