U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush accused the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office of “callousness” and “blatant ineptness” at a news conference Friday.
But Rush will not add his voice to the chorus calling for Anita Alvarez’s resignation.
Rush asked only for the intervention of an independent prosecutor.
“I’m not asking her to step down,” Rush said. “I’m asking her to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to take over this case, this prosecution for Officer [Jason] Van Dyke, the man who killed Laquan McDonald.”
Bolstered by a crowd of community activists inside his Chatham office Friday morning, Rush accused Alvarez of a history of “blatant ineptness over a period of time,” including the 13 months it took Alvarez to bring charges against Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times. The charges were announced just hours before video footage of the incident was publicly released by court order.
Rush also asked that a special prosecutor be brought in to press charges in an older, unrelated case he previously has asked Alvarez to reconsider: the 2010 death of 35-year-old Anthony Kyser, a homeless man accused of shoplifting from a CVS in Little Village.
At Friday’s news conference, Rush screened a silent surveillance tape that showed Kyser’s violent death outside the drugstore. The video shows another man appearing to attack Kyser as the CVS manager holds him down.
Press reports note that the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Kyser’s death a homicide; the police ruled it an accident. Rush said Friday that soon after the Kyser video surfaced in 2013, he wrote State’s Attorney Alvarez a letter asking her to investigate.
“After a month or so passed by, I received a letter,” Rush said. “She indicated to me that she would not bend to political pressure. I was not trying to pressure her. I was pleading with her for justice for Anthony Kyser, for his family, and for the citizens of this county and this state.”
In response to Rush’s comments, Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly sent a statement to the Sun-Times that addressed the Van Dyke case, but not Kyser:
“Congressman Rush should be made aware that this matter is presently the subject of an ongoing independent investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. And State’s Attorney Alvarez has charged this defendant with First Degree Murder at the state level.
“State’s Attorney Alvarez has already publicly announced her support for Attorney General Madigan’s request to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the Chicago Police Department’s practices.”