CHICAGO, May 28 (UPI) -- An old photograph depicting two former Chicago Police Department officers -- posing for what some see as a racist picture -- was made public after a judge presiding over the case refused to seal it among other court records.
The photograph, which officials believe was taken more than a decade ago, shows Officer Timothy McDermott and Officer Jerome Finnigan kneeling with weapons over an unidentified black man, with a deer's antlers positioned above his head -- giving the impression that the officers killed him on a hunting trip. The photo was given to city officials by federal prosecutors two years ago.
Officials believe the photo was taken sometime between 1999 and 2003, when both were members of the elite Special Operations SectorSOS. In the years that followed, Finnigan became embroiled in multiple high profile corruption cases and even an attempted murder rap for plotting the death of a fellow officer as part of the since-disbanded SOS, the Chicago Tribune reported.
McDermott was fired last year by the CPD for the photo, but has since sued the department in an effort to win his job back. It was during these court proceedings that Judge Thomas R. Allen refused to seal the photo -- against the wishes of both the city and McDermott -- thereby making it part of the available public record.
McDermott's attorney and the police department are arguing their positions before the Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court, which might possibly reach a decision early next month, the Tribune report said.
Asked Wednesday about his reaction to the photograph, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel emphasized that it doesn't reflect the views of the police department -- and that McDermott should not get his job back.
"You don't belong in the Police Department," he said of the former officers. "The police department is there to serve and protect, and the values expressed in that photo are not the values of the people of the city of Chicago.
"As far as I'm concerned, good riddance."
Investigators have not been able to identify the black man in the photo -- because the arrest wasn't reported -- but he is believed to have been a drug suspect. It is also unknown who took the photo.
Finnigan reportedly told federal investigators that the black man in the photo was the one who provided them with the hunting rifles.
The Chicago Police Board found McDermott guilty of discrediting the department by taking part in the photo, disrespecting or maltreating a person on or off duty, and unlawful or unnecessary use or display of a weapon, the Tribune reported.
CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy recommended that McDermott be fired in October, and the Chicago Police Board agreed in a 5-to-4 vote. At the time, the panel concluded that "appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being, but as a hunted animal, is disgraceful and shocks the conscience."
"The despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society," McCarthy told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today.
"Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department."
Two years ago, McDermott told the CPD's Internal Affairs Division that he regretted posing for the photo.
"I was asked to join the photo and I did so without exercising proper judgment," he said at the time, according to a transcript. "I made a mistake as a young impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in. I wish I could go back and change this split second decision."
Finnigan, on the other hand, was brought up on criminal charges in 2006 for allegedly committing armed robberies, home invasions and kidnapping. A police affidavit also outlined a plot to murder a fellow police officer, who Finnigan supposedly believed would be used as a witness against him in criminal proceedings.
Having been with the Chicago Police Department since 1988, Finnigan was fired following his arrest in 2006 for several of the aforementioned felony offenses. He was viewed by some of his colleagues as a model police officer, joined the CPD's elite Special Operations Section, and was once even named by the Illinois Police Association as the "Top Cop" of the year.
In 2011, Finnegan agreed to a plea bargain on charges that he and other members of the SOS stole money from drug dealers during illegal traffic stops. He was convicted and sentenced in 2013.
Finnigan is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. The CPD's Special Operations Sector was disbanded in 2007.