Video of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old teen that was gunned down in October of last year by a white Chicago cop, has been released to the public. The police dashcam video confirms why Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer who had been on paid desk duty since the shooting, was indicted this week on first-degree murder charges. Van Dyke becomes the first on-duty Chicago cop to be charged with murder in over three decades.
Writes USA Today on Nov 25: “Hundreds of protesters chanting ‘16 shots’ wove their way through downtown streets Tuesday night after the city released a dramatic video showing a white police officer firing a fatal barrage of 16 bullets at a black teenager. Police and elected officials are bracing for more possible backlash and strong public reaction, even after the officer was charged with first-degree murder.”
The released video, coming one day after Van Dyke was charged with murder, shows multiple police cars converging on the jaywalking Laquan McDonald. The shooting begins around the 5:15 mark of the video above.
Dachcam video shows McDonald jogging down the center line of the street, then slowing to a fast walk and he passes two police SUVs on his left. He appears to have a small knife in his right hand. Van Dyke and another officer emerge from the second vehicle, guns drawn. McDonald is seen walking by them, and away from them.
At the 5:33 mark, Van Dyke open fire, spinning McDonald around and dropping him. The officer continues firing; at the 5:47 mark, 14 seconds later as Laquan is barely moving on the ground, we see evidence of shots still being fired into McDonald’s body. Police then approach him and kick away the knife that was in McDonald’s right hand.
Speaking of the video, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said: “It is graphic, it is violent, it is chilling.”
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.”
The video would seem to contravene that assessment however. There appeared to be no provocation on Laquan’s part to cause the officer to fire, and fire over and over again.
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.
Herbert decried the fact that the mayor used such strong language. “They are unfair and prejudicial to my client,” Herbert told reporters. “Thankfully, politicians will not be deciding the fate of my client.”
Protestors and demonstrators gathered at various places in the city last night, some engaging police is physical altercations.
Adds MSN News: “One throng of well over 200 activists assembled at Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue, with the Chicago skyline as their backdrop, and occasional pushing and shoving with police officers led to heated confrontation and a few arrests. At one point, someone set off a smoke device in the crowd.”
If convicted, Van Dyke would face up to 20 years in jail for the shooting of Laquan McDonald.