Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, was charged with first-degree murder. Van Dyke in October 2014 shot and killed Laquan McDonald, 17. Prosecutors have accused the veteran cop, who is white, of firing over and over, even after the suspect was on the ground. Van Dyke becomes the first on-duty Chicago cop to be charged with murder in over three decades.
Writes Chicago’s ABC 7 on Nov. 24: “On October 20, 2014, Chicago police were responding to reports of car break-ins near 40th and Karlov when they came across McDonald. Officers said the teen, who was a ward of the state, was acting erratically and had a knife he refused to drop. Attorneys for McDonald’s family said he was walking away when he was shot.”
An autopsy determined that McDonald was shot a total of 16 times – taking bullets in the chest, the back of his arms and in his right leg. A toxicology report also revealed the presence of the hallucinogenic drug PCP.
Prosecutors said police dashcam video of the shooting will be released to the public tomorrow. This article will be updated with a link.
Update Nov. 25:
Laquan McDonald: Video released of 17-year-old being gunned down by cop WATCH
Van Dyke has been on paid desk duty for over one year. He appeared in Cook County federal court Tuesday and, as expected, was indicted on the first-degree murder charge.
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 Herbet, 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.”
Officials in Chicago are bracing for civil unrest and protests in conjunction with the release of the video, similar to what has been seen in Ferguson, Baltimore and other cities after blacks have been gunned down at the hands of white officers.
According to reports, witnesses of the video say it clearly shows McDonald turning to walk away from the officers when Jason Van Dyke opens fire from approximately 15 feet away.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the shooting a “hideous” attack with “no justification,” and said Officer Van Dyke took the “law into his own hands,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “He didn’t build the trust we want to see. And he wasn’t about providing safety and security,” Emanuel said.
The city has already settled with McDonald’s family for $5 million. If convicted, Jason Van Dyke faces 20 years behind bars.