Video of a shooting taken by Burger King surveillance cams is now at the center of a Chicago police trial. A Burger King manager spoke to a grand jury this week about the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, gunned down in October of 2014 by a veteran Chicago cop who has since been indicted on first-degree murder charges. Last week, the shocking police dashcam video was released to the public, causing strong outrage and protests. But the Burger King manager says he believes nearly a minute and a half of his restaurant’s surveillance video was purposely deleted by Chicago police.
Reports USA Today on Nov. 28: “Lawyers for McDonald’s family told the paper that the video likely would not show footage of the shooting but may have shown his movements just prior to his death. After police examined the video the night of the shooting, Burger King employees said there was an unexplained 86-minute gap in its footage that covers the time of the shooting.”
Burger King manager Jay Darshane said that shortly after the shooting, Chicago PD entered the restaurant, which was only yards away from where Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who had been on paid desk duty since unloading 16 rounds into McDonald, and demanded to review his password-protected video footage.
Darshane said they spent two hours with the footage, behind his office door, and when they left, there was an 86-second gap missing. The FBI has since seized the video recorders and all images. In Van Dyke’s grand jury trial, the Chicago chief of police and the Cook County state attorney have both denied altering any Burger King video surveillance.
“I was just trying to help the police with their investigation,” Darshane said in his testimony, according to The Associated Press. “I didn’t know they were going to delete it.”
Adds the AP report, via Yahoo News: “It’s not clear what that video might have shown, but the accusation of tampering has fueled the anger of protesters who say the city, the police and local prosecutors have mishandled the case. After months of refusals, the city released police squad car video of the shooting on Tuesday in response to a judge’s order.”
Police dashcam video shows a jaywalking McDonald, who is black, walking away from Van Dyke, who is white, and another officer who had exited their vehicle with guns drawn. Armed with a small knife in his right hand, McDonald is angling away from the officers when he is shot over and over. Fourteen seconds after the shooting begins, Van Dyke continues to fire into McDonald’s body as he lies in the street.
None of the other officers responding to the incident opened fire. “I can’t speak to why the [other] officers didn’t shoot,” Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “But I certainly can speak to why my client shot, and it is he believed in his heart of hearts that he was in fear for his life, that he was concerned about the lives of [other] police officers.”
On Black Friday, protesters interrupted holiday shopping – even standing shoulder to shoulder in front of major department stores to prevent shoppers from entering – while chanting “stop the cover-up!” and “16 shots! 16 shots!”
Protestors and critics believe police were trying to erase the damning Burger King video that showed the shooting, but the recently released dashcam video is strong evidence against Van Dyke, who faces 20 years behind bars.