By Mary Wisniewski and Justin Madden
CHICAGO (Reuters) – A white Chicago police officer, charged with murdering a black teenager, posted bond on Monday afternoon as protests continued over a patrol car’s dashboard camera video that showed the officer shooting the teen 16 times.
Protesters including NAACP President Cornell William Brooks were arrested on Monday, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Demonstrators have objected strongly to the 13-month delay in releasing the video and charging the officer for the 2014 shooting.
Police officer Jason Van Dyke appeared in shackles at Monday’s hearing, where Cook County Criminal Court Associate Judge Donald Panarese, Jr. set bail at $1.5 million, of which 10 percent had to be posted.
The police union president said union members were helping Van Dyke’s family raise the amount needed for Van Dyke to get out of jail.
Last week, Van Dyke was denied bail because the judge wanted to see the video first. Prosecutors asked on Monday that the previous ruling stand, but Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, said his client posed no flight risk.
Several days of protests in the third-largest U.S. city have followed the release last Tuesday of the video, which showed Van Dyke gunning down 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the middle of the street on Oct. 20, 2014, as McDonald was walking away from police who had confronted him. Van Dyke, 37, was charged with first-degree murder.
High-profile killings of black men at the hands of mainly white law enforcement officials in U.S. cities over the past two years have prompted demonstrations across the country, and have stoked a national debate on race relations and police tactics.
Herbert said Van Dyke is prepared to defend himself. “He is very scared about the consequences that he’s facing. He’s concerned for his wife and his children. But he’s handling it like a professional,” Herbert said.
“When you see the video alone it does not seem like a justifiable shooting,” Herbert said. But he said that consulting with Van Dyke and experts in the field, he decided the case was “absolutely defensible.
Dean Angelo, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police union, said he saw the video of the shooting, yet believed Van Dyke took “action that he believed at that time to be justified.”
The case prompted an online threat that closed the University of Chicago on Monday. Jabari Dean, 21, a student at the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago, was arrested and charged with threatening to kill 16 white male students or staff in retaliation for the shooting of McDonald, federal prosecutors said.
Ten people were arrested for disrupting traffic on Monday, including Brooks and several seminary students as they knelt to pray in the middle of LaSalle Street outside City Hall. The protest began with singing and marching around with empty caskets.
One participant, NAACP College and Youth Director Stephen Green, said he knew they would be arrested and that they decided “to break the man’s law to uphold moral law for transformation in the city of Chicago.”
Green said up to 300 people took part in the protest, and more were planned. He said a court date is pending with a possible fine.
Chicago police confirmed that citations were issued and everyone was released.
(Reporting by Justin Madden and Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)
Photo: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is seen in an undated picture released by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged on Tuesday with first-degree murder in the October 2014 shooting of a black teenager, a state prosecutor said in a statement. REUTERS/Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office/Handout via Reuters