A photo released to the public this week shows two former Chicago police officers holding guns and posing with a black suspect who is lying on the floor wearing antlers. One of the officers was fired after the image surfaced, and is currently appealing his dismissal from the force.
Believed to have been taken in a West Side police station sometime between 1999 and 2003, the photo -- which the The Chicago Sun-Times retrieved Monday from a court filing -- shows former Chicago Police Department officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott with an unidentified drug suspect.
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.
The photo was first turned over to the CPD in late January 2013 and immediately triggered an investigation, the department told The Huffington Post. The investigation resulted in the police board voting 5-4 last year to fire McDermott, who is currently appealing his dismissal in court and expects a decision from a judge next month.
Attorneys for both the police department and McDermott asked the court to keep the photo sealed to protect the unidentified man's privacy, but Judge Thomas Allen denied the request in March.
"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 Chicago Sun-Times explained in a message to readers. "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."
By the time the department received the photo, Finnigan had already been fired: In 2011, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a team of cops in robberies and home invasions.
CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy told HuffPost he stands firmly behind the decision to fire McDermott.
"This picture is disgusting, and the despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society," he said in an emailed statement. "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."
McDermott’s attorney did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment.