Donna More Shares Vision for Cook County State's Attorney's Office
Donna More is one of two candidates looking to unseat Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez in a March Democratic primary.
As Alvarez fends off calls for her resignation in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting and subsequent release of the dash-cam video depicting the fatal October 2014 encounter, as well as criticism over the pace of the investigation, we ask former state and federal prosecutor More what she might have done differently.
"I believe that the Cook County State's Attorney has not done her job," More said to Carol Marin on "Chicago Tonight," when asked about the Laquan McDonald shooting. "When you look at the tape and you see 16 bullets being pumped into this young man, 14 of which came after he was already on the ground, and you have six or eight police eyewitnesses right there, that is the evidence that if I were state's attorney, I would charge and indict on within a matter of weeks."
"Chicago Tonight" spoke with More Wednesday afternoon by phone, prior to her on-air interview. Below, some highlights from the discussion.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy has resigned, should Anita Alvarez step down as well?
"If I were her I would step down, but she obviously has to make her own decision. What I will say is because we have an election just months away we as voters can certainly force her to step down by not electing her in the primary."
Would the McDonald investigation take more than a year if you were state’s attorney?
"No. That’s the short answer. Listen, every investigation that she gets called out on the carpet she says is 'complex.' In the regular course of cases coming in, or had this case been reversed and the shooter was the young man and the police officer was killed, this case would have been charged within a matter of hours and would have been indicted in a matter of days."
It’s clear that a significant portion of Chicagoans, particularly in black and brown communities, have little or no trust in the police department and believe that police are often allowed to act with impunity in their communities. How will you handle cases involving alleged police brutality and the use of lethal force by police?
"You have to indict no matter who commits the crime. You have to indict based on evidence and not on political influence. And the problem is that both of my opponents have strings being pulled by people other than themselves, and that’s how you get bad indictments. In October 2014 or early November 2014, had Anita Alvarez stood up and said, 'This is a rogue cop. Our men and women in blue do a heck of job every day ... but we have a rogue police officer here and I have watched this video and I am indicting on murder because no matter who commits the crime, if the evidence is there my job is to indict.' If she had done that we wouldn’t be here today."
Why do you want the job of state’s attorney?
"I started my career as a state’s attorney after I graduated from Georgetown law school. I came home and was a state prosecutor, I went on to become a federal prosecutor and since that time, I have always had a special passion for the state’s attorney’s office and how you can make the office run better; how you can do things to make the criminal justice system run better.
"The last seven years have been pretty tough to watch what has been done to the office. ... You can’t just keep bitching about something, you have to do something. What differentiates me from my opponents is that I don’t need a job. I have a job. I’m actually running for this because I want to do a job and I’m independent. I want to help victims in our county, I want to help the county as a whole to have safer streets and I want people to feel that the state’s attorney’s office gives everybody a fair shake and is open and transparent in how we transact the business of prosecution in this county."
If you are elected what will be your priorities?
"The number one priority is gun violence. The incumbent has done nothing to improve the situation and in fact I think we are less safe today than when she took office. And again, my other opponent was never in the felony trial courts at 26th and California and doesn’t really fully understand the workings of the office. So I am the only one who has stopped complaining about gun violence and rolled out a program."
More ‘Chicago Tonight’ interviews with candidates for State’s Attorney
On Tuesday, Alvarez spoke with Phil Ponce about her re-election effort in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. See it below.
Foxx, the former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, shared her vision for the office with "Chicago Tonight" in November. Hear what she had to say, below.