'Chilling' Video of Alleged Murder Made Public as Chicago Cop Finally Charged
By 'artificially delaying justice for 400 days,' city officials have 'allowed anger, mistrust and resentment to build up to a fever pitch'
Updated (9:12 PM EDT):
Under pressure from a court order and amid worries over public outrage over the sheer brutality of the incident and why it took so long to do so (see below), Chicago officials on Tuesday evening released dash cam footage of the 2014 fatal shooting of seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke who was earlier in the day indicted for first-degree murder.
Watch (Warning: graphic footage that some may find disturbing):
Reaction was trending on Twitter under #LaquanMcDonald:
According to local Chicago news outlet DNAinfo:
The video shows Officer Jason Van Dyke, 37, getting out of his squad and shooting McDonald multiple time. Authorities said he hit him 16 times, empty his cartridge into the teen, including many shots while McDonald was on the ground.
Police union officials initially said McDonald lunged at them with a knife. The video shows McDonald holding a knife and spinning while walking down the middle of the street. It's unclear when the first shot hits him — before or after the spin.
As the city braced for the expected public release of dash-cam video described by a state prosecutor as "graphic," "violent" and "chilling," a Chicago police officer was finally charged Tuesday with murdering a black teenager in October 2014.
Seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald was allegedly shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, on October 20, 2014. Witnesses said McDonald, who police claimed was armed with a small knife and under the influence of drugs, was walking away from law enforcement when he was shot and killed by Van Dyke.
In a ruling late last week, a Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered the city to release no later than November 25 the police dash-cam video showing the shooting. For months, the city fought attempts to have the video released to the public, saying it could jeopardize any ongoing investigation.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
The dash-cam video shows Van Dyke jumping out of his squad car and within seconds firing 16 rounds into McDonald, lawyers for McDonald's family have said.
After the first few shots knocked McDonald to the ground, Van Dyke fired another volley that struck the African-American teen repeatedly as his body lay in almost a fetal position on the ground, according to the lawyers.
Even Daniel Herbert, Van Dyke's attorney, has described the video as "graphic, disturbing, and difficult to watch."
The judge's ruling, and the prospect of the video's imminent public release, spurred Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to charge Van Dyke, who is 37. The officer turned himself into authorities Tuesday morning and has been ordered held without bail.
Writing in the New York Daily News, journalist and activist Shaun King argued that official outrage over the video and the shooting was coming too late.
"Here's the thing: If Laquan's murder is heinous, unjustified, and illegal today, it was heinous, unjustified, and illegal 400 days ago," King wrote. "It didn't randomly take the mayor and city prosecutors more than a year to determine this."
He continued: "Every single person who saw the video has echoed this for over a year. Emanuel and prosecutors have shape-shifted into pseudo freedom fighters because they’re backed into a corner. They fought tooth-and-nail to have this video concealed, knowing that as long as they did, it would protect Van Dyke from prosecution. Now that it is about to be released, prosecutors have no legal justification for the artificial delay of charges."
By "artificially delaying justice for 400 days," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other officials have "allowed anger, mistrust and resentment to build up to a fever pitch," King said.
With that in mind, groups are urging calm ahead of the video's release. On social media, the Black Youth Project 100 is collecting messages of hope and solidarity under the hashtag #BeforeYouWatch.
"This video may cause great pain," one activist says of the shooting footage, "and whether you watch it or not, I want you to remember that our lives are worth more than this system would have you believe."
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the chief of the Chicago Police Department said Monday that he will recommend firing the off-duty officer who shot and killed unarmed African-American woman Rekia Boyd in March 2012.