CHICAGO - Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday said that a video showing a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting a black teenager was "abominable" and that the city's delay in releasing the footage was "a failure of government."
Carson, the only black candidate in the 2016 field, held a fund-raiser and met with ministers while in town.
The squad car video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times was released under a court order last month, more than a year after the 17-year-old's death. The footage has led to weeks of protests and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation of the police department.
That delay "represents a failure of government, and everybody loses in a situation like that," Carson said. "We simply cannot condone this kind of activity. We cannot sweep it under the rug. This is what creates a lot of the animosity that exists in our society."
Carson would not weigh in on whether Emanuel, a Democrat who was President Obama's first chief of staff, should step down. He said people in Chicago should decide. But he indicated he isn't buying Emanuel's explanation that the city waited to release the video because of ongoing investigations. Critics have accused the mayor of keeping it under wraps until after he won a second term in April - a claim he denies.
"Whether it was a cover-up or not it was hidden for a very long time," Carson said. "It's hard to come up with a rational reason to do that other than a political reason."
He said easing racial tensions may be best accomplished by getting police, community members, and local leaders to talk more. When that happens, he added, "a lot of times things do not blow up the same way."