In an effort to boost community trust in the organization that investigates police-involved shootings in the city, the acting head of that agency said Sunday that she’s restructuring her leadership team.
Sharon Fairley, a former federal prosecutor, was expected to detail plans Monday to shake up the “senior leadership team” of the Independent Police Review Authority.
Fairley plans to outline additional staff changes as “part of [an] overall mission to improve quality of investigations and rebuild community trust in the agency,” according to a statement from IPRA.
Fairley also was expected to discuss plans for an “outreach manager who will offer more direct support and communication with complainants, witnesses and the community,” according to the statement.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Fairley — replacing Scott Ando — amid the protests that began with the release of video footage of a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.
Fairley has already been busy since Emanuel appointed her to fix IPRA in December. She called on City Hall’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to investigate questions surrounding Officer Jason Van Dyke’s fatal shooting of McDonald. At the time, she said public confidence would be “enhanced” if the investigation were conducted by an agency “that has had no involvement with the matter and can bring a fresh look at the facts.”
Fairley also has said her office planned to reopen IPRA’s investigation into how officers treated Philip Coleman, a 38-year-old man who suffered a mental breakdown in 2012. A recently released video shows officers dragging Coleman from a police lockup after he was repeatedly shocked with a stun gun at a South Side police station. Police said he was combative when they tried to take him to court to face charges in connection with an arrest the day before.
Coleman was transported to a hospital, where officers said he was combative again. They zapped him repeatedly with a Taser and struck him with a baton, according to police records. He died hours later from a reaction to a sedative the hospital gave him, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Even though IPRA investigates all police shootings and complaints of excessive force, Fairley’s call for the city inspector general to investigate the police officers in the McDonald shooting was not unprecedented.
The inspector general’s office has been investigating police officials involved in the case of David Koschman, who died in 2004 after a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley punched him in the face.