Investigators seek to talk to family who says their loved one in racist police photo

SHARE Investigators seek to talk to family who says their loved one in racist police photo

The Chicago Police Department is investigating whether Michael Spann was the black man who wore antlers while two white cops posed with him in a Polaroid photo, and investigators are seeking to interview two family members of Spann who came forward last week.

The Chicago Sun-Times first published the controversial photo in a story on May 27.

Detective Timothy McDermott was fired in October for appearing in the photo, despite glowing character references from former police Supt. Phil Cline and McDermott’s stepfather, a former deputy superintendent.

McCarthy, who moved to fire McDermott, has called the photo “disgusting.”

“Our investigation into the photo remains active. If additional officers are identified, swift action will be taken,” McCarthy reiterated in a statement Monday.

The person who took the photo has not been identified.

Jerome Finnigan, the other officer in the photo, was fired in 2006 after he was charged in an unrelated federal corruption case. He is now serving a 12-year prison term.

After the photo was published, Spann’s family came forward and told reporters he was the man with the antlers on his head.

The police Bureau of Internal Affairs has been trying to reach Spann’s family but has not received a response, said department spokeswoman Jennifer Rottner.

Police say they have never officially identified the man wearing the antlers.

The photo, which the FBI obtained during the Finnigan investigation, was provided to the police department in 2013.

The city sought to have the photo sealed earlier this year after McDermott appealed his firing to the Cook County Circuit Court, but Judge Thomas Allen refused. Last week, Allen upheld the firing.

The Sun-Times obtained the photo from the court file.In the Polaroid, a man with antlers on his head is on his belly with his tongue sticking out while the officers kneel next to him holding rifles.

The photo was taken in 2003 in the Harrison police station on the West Side after Spann and an uncle were arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges following a raid on a home, his family said.

Officers taped the antlers to Spann’s head and forced him to pose as a hunted animal, his family said. The drug charges against Spann and his uncle were later dismissed, his family said.

Spann, an Orr High School student in 2003, spoke about the humiliation of being forced to pose in the photo, his father said.

Spann was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2007.


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