By Michael Nam
Chicago Police Department wanted to withhold the photograph featuring former police officers, Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott, appearing like trophy hunters over a Black man lying on the floor with antlers tied to his head, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The disturbing photo may have been taken between 1999 and 2003 when Finnigan and McDermott both served on a now-disbanded Special Operations Section. The photograph was turned over to Chicago PD in 2013 during the conviction of Finnigan for running a robbery ring along with other police officers.
McDermott lost his job after a police board hearing when the photo came to their attention. “I am embarrassed by my participation in this photograph,” he said, as relayed by the Chicago Sun-Times. “I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in.”
The Chicago paper notes, however:
Court records show McDermott was a defendant in four federal lawsuits accusing him and other officers of misconduct while he was assigned to the Special Operations Section and later, when he was a detective.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy of the CPD called the photo “disgusting” according to Mediaite:
As the superintendent of this department, and as a resident of our city, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today. I fired one of the officers and would have fired the other if he hadn’t already been fired by the time I found out about the picture. Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department.
While the man with the antlers had not been identified, the image still serves to reinforce the problems police have had in Chicago (and Ferguson, Baltimore and a host of other cities) relating to Black communities.
Whether it was the acquittal of Detective Dante Servin in the shooting of Rekia Boyd or the unwillingness of the Chicago Police Department to release another piece of visual evidence in the death of Laquan McDonald, relations in the Windy City have been decidedly strained.
As policing gets increasingly scrutinized for racial bias and discrimination, even an image dredged up from over a decade ago is a powerful reminder of the massive changes that institutions of criminal justice still must undergo.
The Chicago Sun-Times, in their reasoning for running the shocking photograph, states that Timothy McDermott is even now attempting to return to the police force.