Barely more than a week after her inauguration as the first Black woman mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot was set to face her first real test as a champion of police reform in a city plagued by law enforcement’s corruption and cover-ups. The family of an elderly woman killed in a multi-car crash over the weekend was blaming police for the death and demanding Lightfoot be a part of the solution, according to the Associated Press.
Verona Gunn was in a car with her family when it pulled over to make way for police vehicles speeding through the streets of Chicago Saturday night. The 84-year-old was injured after “up to 12 police vehicles sped through an intersection as the family’s car waited,” a letter sent by her family to Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “It says two police vehicles slammed into each other, then into the idling family car. Two other adults and a child were also injured.”
The family asked for the city to release police dash cam footage of the crash. But as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether that request would be honored, and if so, when.
Lightfoot, who was sworn in on May 20, campaigned in part on a platform of reforming the city’s police force, which has a rich history of corruption, including most recently the questionable way it treated the Jussie Smollett case.
According to the local Fox news affilite, Lightfoot “signaled days before her inauguration that she’s serious about transforming the 13,000-officer force by appointing top staffers with histories as strong police-reform advocates.”
If that was true, Gunn’s family, including her Bishop Dwight Gunn, senior pastor of the Heritage International Christian Church in Chicago, should be getting that dashcam footage soon.
“My family will seek answers for the reckless behavior of the Chicago Police Department as we mourn the loss of our mother,” Bishop Gunn told the Chicago Tribune over the weekend.
Lightfoot spoke at length to a local radio station about the deadly gun violence that took place in Chicago over the weekend. However, she reportedly didn’t mention the police-involved car crash that took Verona Gunn’s life, according to WBBM News Radio.
The lines could be blurred with this particular instance as there are established policies regarding police pursuits. However, the “police cars were on their way to an emergency call for assistance” when the crashes happened, making it unclear if there was a policy in place for that type of situation.
Lightfoot succeeded a mayor who was accused of helping to cover up the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, an unarmed teenager shot 16 times in 15 seconds by an officer who said he feared for his life before bodycam footage dispelled that myth months later. The crash could be a make-or-break moment for Lightfoot in her young tenure as mayor as she has a chance to show Chicagoans that she is serious about holding police accountable in a city that hasn’t seen very much of that recently, if ever.