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Chicago Charges Officer In Black Teen’s Death, Releases Video Of Shooting

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Chicago Charges Officer In Black Teen’s Death, Releases Video Of Shooting

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By Mary Wisniewski and P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A white Chicago policeman who fatally shot a black teenager was charged with murder on Tuesday, hours before authorities released a long-awaited video that shows the youth walking away from officers as he is slain by a volley of 16 gunshots.

The graphic footage of last year’s shooting, taken from a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car and made public under orders from a judge, sparked mostly peaceful street demonstrations in Chicago on Tuesday.

The clip showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who authorities said was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system, as he was gunned down in the middle of a street on Oct. 20, 2014. McDonald is seen jogging away from patrol vehicles pursuing him from behind, and then veering off diagonally at a walk as two more officers pull up in a squad car ahead of him.

Two policemen are seen jumping out of their vehicle in the center of the road, and drawing their weapons while advancing toward McDonald, who continues to move away. Within seconds he is struck by bullets, spins and crumples to the ground, his body jerking as he is hit by additional rounds of gunfire.

Cook County’s chief prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, acknowledged that she timed the filing of the first-degree murder charge against officer Jason Van Dyke to precede the video’s disclosure in a bid to mute harsh public reaction to the footage.

“With release of this video it’s really important for public safety that the citizens of Chicago know that this officer is being held responsible for his actions,” she said.

Van Dyke became the first Chicago police officer charged with murder for an on-duty incident in decades.

The video originally was expected to be released a day later, in compliance with the Wednesday deadline set by a judge. But police said they made the clip public Tuesday evening after it was leaked to a local television station. Technical issues were blamed for a lack of audio with the tape.

Authorities, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, appealed for calm as the city hoped to avert the turmoil over race and the use of lethal police force that has shaken much of the United States for more than a year.

Hundreds of protesters gathered a few miles east of the site of the shooting, and marched through streets chanting: “You don’t get to kill us and tell us how to feel. You don’t get to shoot us and tell us how to heal.”

Police said two protesters were arrested after a scuffle on Michigan Avenue.

“It’s a good start that they have charged the police officer, but we’ve clearly reached the point where something needs to change,” said protester Monique Winegard, 33.

By 9 p.m. CST (0300 GMT) the demonstrators had assembled outside a police precinct, demanding the release of the two people who had been arrested.

‘OFFICER WENT OVERBOARD’

The video, and prosecutors’ account of the shooting, contradicted assertions by Van Dyke’s lawyers and the police union that the shooting was justified because Van Dyke felt threatened by the youth.

Prosecutors said Van Dyke fired the shots within 30 seconds of arriving at the scene, and just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload.

“Clearly, this officer went overboard and he abused his authority, and I don’t think use of force was necessary,” prosecutor Alvarez said at a news conference after Van Dyke’s initial hearing.

Joining the mayor and a dozen community leaders at a news conference during the day, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said officers would “facilitate” protests but would not tolerate criminal behavior.

Van Dyke was denied bail at a hearing in Chicago’s main criminal courthouse hours after the criminal charge was announced. If convicted, Van Dyke could face 20 years to life in prison.

Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Donald Panarese scheduled a second hearing for Monday where he said he wanted to view the video in court and reconsider bail for Van Dyke based on its content. Prosecutor Bill Delaney told the judge that witnesses and the video concur that McDonald was not moving toward Van Dyke.

MISCONDUCT

Van Dyke has had 20 misconduct complaints made against him during the past 4-1/2 years, none of which led to any discipline from the Chicago Police Department, according to research by Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and expert on police accountability issues.

“The Chicago Police Department refuses to look at potential patterns of misconduct complaints when investigating police misconduct,” Futterman said. “If the department did look at these patterns when investigating police abuse, there is a great chance right now that 17-year-old boy would still be alive.”

McDonald’s death came at a time of intense national debate over police use of deadly force, especially against minorities. A number of U.S. cities have seen protests over police violence in the past 18 months, some of them fueled by video of the deaths.

The uproar was a factor in the rise of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement and has become an issue in the November 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

Van Dyke’s lawyer Daniel Herbert said his client would prevail in court.

“This is a case that can’t be tried in the streets, it can’t be tried in the media, and it can’t be tried on Facebook,” Herbert said.

FAMILY CALLS FOR CALM

McDonald’s family called for calm, as did city authorities and black community leaders.

“No one understands the anger more than us, but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful. Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name. Let his legacy be better than that,” McDonald’s family said in a statement through their lawyer.

In Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, family appeals for peace were not always heeded.

Police shootings are frequent in Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States with 2.7 million people, roughly one-third white, one-third black and one-third Hispanic.

From 2008-2014 there were an average of 17 fatal shootings by police each year, according to data from the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct.

Almost all shootings, fatal and non-fatal, are found to be justified.

 

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz, Justin Madden, Nick Carey and Tom Polansek in Chicago and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by Grant McCool and Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

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16 Comments

  1. A_Real_Einstein November 25, 2015

    Somehow Fox News will defend the indefensible. A good thing for Chicago that this murderer has been charged.

    Reply
  2. FT66 November 25, 2015

    It is shameful, really shameful. Even in Somalia where there is no government, they don’t do such silly killings like this one.

    Reply
  3. jif6360 November 25, 2015

    I have not seen the video yet. There have been a lot of videos posted on the Internet recently that have depicted police officers in a negative light. Unfortunately, the reputation of all cops is unjustifiably suffering as a result. Personally, I have never knowingly encountered a bad cop. I am aware that most of a cop’s day is probably boring but can very suddenly turn into a high stress situation. These ups and downs can take a toll on even the strongest-willed of people. It is my belief that people find it simpler to blame cops for any acts of injustice that our government commits because cops are the most commonly-interacted with agents of the government. Therefore, cops that are already working under highly stressful circumstances are now feeling unfairly condemned. This fosters resentment for the people they are supposed to protect and makes it more likely that they will respond with brutality when faced with an extreme situation. Treat a cop with respect and it will most likely be reciprocated. The people of this country need to stop displacing their anger onto police officers and focus it toward those who are truly responsible. Protecting a man who on more than one occasion has show himself to be incabible of doing his job with honor and integrity is the fault of the city official. If he is found guilty these public officials should be put in the cell next to him. http://www.judicialimmunitynecessaryevil.com/petition.html

    Reply
    1. A_Real_Einstein November 25, 2015

      The problem is the culture. There are no good cops when they all provide cover for the bad cops. In this case evidence was destroyed. Speaking of transparency……..

      Reply
      1. jif6360 November 25, 2015

        U hit the nail on the head. When the good cops cover for the bad, does this make them bad. Ask yourself if u would stand against your fellow officers? A few have, and they had to find new jobs. The real problem is that man should have been fired a long time ago. This makes the city officials more responsible for the kids death then the officer. Their accountability will be paid for by the tax payers. All disputes between the gov and people should be adjudicated by a jury. This is the only way to secure the people voice.

        Reply
        1. jif6360 November 25, 2015

          Oh did I mention our honorable judges are more corrupt then any of our public officials.

          Reply
  4. Whatmeworry November 25, 2015

    Its a shame that the cop didn’t have a spare clip

    Reply
    1. bhaggen November 26, 2015

      He was changing magazines when his partner stopped him. Talk about over-kill.

      Reply
    2. Ran_dum_Thot November 26, 2015

      You won’t be saying this when your kid on drugs gets nailed.

      Reply
      1. Whatmeworry November 29, 2015

        Sorry your comment only applies to the colored

        Reply
        1. Ran_dum_Thot December 1, 2015

          You’re the bigot. Only in America can AHOLES speak freely, at will.

          Reply
        2. Daniel Max Ketter December 1, 2015

          Well my daughter Staci is married a black guy, and he’s the best son-in-law i’ve every had. Certainly better than my brother ken who sells crack to high school students and spreading his HIV to other old men.

          Reply
        3. Daniel Max Ketter December 17, 2015

          I Dan Ketter praise the United Auto Workers for all their hard work and service to our country and Ford Motors.

          Reply
        4. Staci K Whatmeworry December 17, 2015

          Well I am Dan Ketter /whatmeworry’s little girl, and I gave oral pleasures to coloreds back in my prostitution days. No I am just a crack ho’

          Reply
    3. Daniel Max Ketter December 1, 2015

      Too many racist piglice, just like in Ferguson. I hope they lock him up and throw away the key.

      Reply
  5. Ran_dum_Thot November 26, 2015

    Forget the racial BS. This is a supposedly trained cop, trained to use a gun, trained to serve and protect, trained to handle tense situations. He is with half a dozen other officers, the victim is not close to the officer or anyone else for that matter. The victim is shot before any non-lethal methods were employed then had 14 more rounds pumped into him. FUBAR time boys and girls. Do you really want someone like this policeman running around loose in your neighborhood? What is really disgusting is the attempts to cover up this mess. How long do you think it will take a police state to grow out of control if egregious acts like this are allowed to continue, all with the blessing of politicians and fellow officers?

    Reply

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