CHICAGO -- She's served as a Cook County judge, an assistant U.S. attorney and on the staff of the City's corporation counsel. The role Patricia brown Holmes accepted today is that of special prosecutor to investigate Chicago police officer conduct regarding the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Patricia brown Holmes left the courtroom in which she was tasked with looking into whether officers lied to justify McDonald’s shooting and headed directly to pick up the documents she must review in what will be an expansive, lengthy and complex investigation. Holmes calls it a “grave” responsibility.
“The judge thought I would be fair, impartial and independent and this is something I think that is very important to the public, that we get it right, and they have confidence in whatever the results may be," Holmes said.
She brings close to three decades of experience to the job, much of it in public service. In 2009, Holmes was named trustee in charge of the cleanup following a burial scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery. Holmes is the immediate past president of the Chicago Bar Association, on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater the University of Illinois, and is a founding member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago.
“We're very pleased with the fact that Judge Martin picked someone from the African American community because this is such an important issue to that community and to the whole city of ,” said Flint Taylor, an attorney with People's Law Office.
Holmes was selected from a group of four attorneys recommended for the position after community groups and a member of McDonald’s family requested a special prosecutor. The dash cam video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting the teen 16 times led to a Justice Department investigation of CPD practices. The issue at stake in Holmes' probe is that the accounts of several other officers have differed from the scene caught on camera.
“We are confident that the investigation she will lead will be thorough, will be zealous, will be fair and will bring to justice those involved in a cover up that should be brought to justice ,” Locke Bowman said.
Van Dyke has entered a not guilty plea to a first degree murder charge that was filed just hours before the video was made public in November. A judge ordered Mayor Emanuel to release it after he fought to keep it under wraps for roughly a year. Weeks of protests accused the mayor of being complicit in a cover up.
“If she uncovers evidence that leads beyond the police department and into the mayor's office, we assume that she would pursue that as well or get an additional mandate from the court in order to do so,” Taylor said.
Holmes is likely to convene a grand jury in a process that is expected to last for months.