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Video Shows Chicago Cop Jason Van Dyke ‘Executing’ 17-Year-Old Laquan McDonald

November 24, 2015 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment with 0 Comments
Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014.

Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014.

14-year CPD veteran with 18 complaints—8 for excessive force—charged with 1st-degree murder… Victim shot 16 times

Chicago police have released 2014 dashcam video footage showing an officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times—including at least twice in the back—and the officer who fired the fatal shots has been charged with first-degree murder.

Hours after Officer Jason Van Dyke was ordered held without bond on the murder charge, CPD, complying with a judge’s order, released shocking video footage (WARNING: Contains graphic images of alleged murder) showing the white officer repeatedly shooting the black teen, even after he is lying on the ground writhing in agony.

In the video, which was recorded on October 20, 2014 beginning at 9:52 p.m. at 41st and Pulaski in Archer Heights, McDonald, who was suspected of stealing radios from nearby trucks, is seen running in the middle of a street. As several police vehicles arrive on the scene, officers spring out with guns pointed at the teen. As McDonald walks slightly away from the officers, shots are fired and he falls to the ground. He was lying in the street in the fetal position when Van Dyke shot him more than a dozen times in the seconds that followed.

According to court documents, Van Dyke emptied an entire magazine of bullets into McDonald: “Officer A reported that there was a brief pause in the shots when he looked at defendant and saw that he was preparing to reload his weapon. Officer A could hear McDonald struggling to breathe, told defendant to hold his fire so Officer A could approach and kick the knife away.”

None of the at eight officers on the scene attempted to give medical aid to Mc Donald as he lay mortally wounded. Incredibly, Mc Donald survived but died before reaching a nearby hospital.

The events portrayed in the video differ dramatically from the initial police report of the incident, in which officers claimed McDonald had lunged at them before Van Dyke opened fire. Witnesses corroborate that McDonald was in fact moving away from police when he was shot.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office later determined that only two of the shots had been fired while McDonald was standing. The victim was shot in his scalp, neck, left chest, right chest, left elbow, left forearm, right upper arm, right hand, right upper leg, left upper back and right lower back. Less than 30 seconds had passed between the time Van Dyke exited his police vehicle and fired his gun. A knife was recovered from the scene and a blood test determined McDonald had consumed the powerful dissociative drug PCP.

Former CPD commander turned whistleblower Lorenzo Davis called the shooting “an execution.”

“The young man was stopped by the first bullet,” Davis told the Daily Beast. “The other shots where an execution.”

WLS reports McDonald’s family did not want the video released, but a freelance journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

McDonald’s relatives joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy in calling for peaceful protests in the wake of the video’s release and murder charge.

“We ask for calm in Chicago. 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,” the victim’s family, which has already been paid a $5 million settlement by the city, said.

“Anyone that sees this video will also make their own judgments of Jason Van Dyke and of his actions,” Emanuel said at a press conference. “The incident, his actions in the video will be debated and discussed in the days ahead. It’s appropriate, but we as a city of Chicago all of us also have to make an important judgment about ourselves and our city as we go forward.”

“Will we use this episode and this moment to build bridges that bring us together as a city or will we allow it to become a way that erects barriers that tear us apart as a city?” Emanuel asked.

“People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest. People have a right to free speech. They do not have right to commit criminal acts,” Supt. McCarthy said.

The release of the video sent protesters streaming into Chicago’s streets, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Tonight, what we’re having is another instance of a killing, a public lynching of another young black man, so we’re asking you to give us some space to process our feeling around that,” Fresco Steez, a member of the activist group Black Youth Project 100, told the Tribune at a demonstration in an art gallery just south of Halsted Street and Roosevelt Road. “Feelings might be raw.” Activists chanted “16 times” as they marched, and protesters locked hands and surrounded several police cars at Roosevelt and State Street. A scuffle ensued near the Balbo Bridge, where an officer fell beneath a bike, which was then stomped upon by a protester.

Other protesters called on McCarthy to resign or be fired.

“Superintendent McCarthy knew about this tape a year ago, but he never said anything about it,” activist Tio Hardiman told the Tribune. “The only reason they’re speaking up now is because the judge ordered the tape to be released. This is hypocritical.”

Dan Herbert, Van Dyke’s attorney, has said the officer’s actions “were not only lawful but also within department policy and within his training.” The police union said it was “standing by” Van Dyke, DNAinfo Chicago reports. Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo on Tuesday suggested that releasing the video to the public could prejudice jurors come time for Van Dyke’s trial.

Van Dyke faces 20 years to life behind bars if convicted. WLS reports the 14-year veteran has had at least 18 citizen complaints filed against him over the course of his career, including eight accusations of excessive force.

NBC Chicago reported in May that the district manager of a Burger King restaurant near the scene of the shooting claimed police deleted security camera footage showing the shooting. Manager Jay Darshane said police were granted access to the restaurant’s recording and that 86 minutes of footage subsequently went missing.

Relations between Chicago’s police and black population have long been fraught, largely a result of decades of brutal treatment by officers. The most infamous case of CPD brutality involved former police commander John Burge, who led a crew of detectives who terrorized the city’s predominantly black South Side. Burge and his subordinates tortured more than 100 black males from 1972-1991 in order to force confessions to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder. Initial interrogation practices included shooting pets, handcuffing suspects to objects for days, and pointing guns at heads of children. Victims were burned with cigarettes and radiators, suffocated with plastic bags and subjected to electric shocks, sometimes administered to the genitals. Brutal beatings were a regular part of interrogations.

Numerous police superintendents, Cook County prosecutors and a cover-up allegedly involving former longtime mayor Richard M. Daley protected Burge from prosecution; he wasn’t brought to justice until 2010. Earlier this year, Chicago offered a total of $5.5 million to Burge’s victims.

Charlene Carruthers, national director of the Black Youth Project 100, told Democracy Now! that Chicago officials need to rethink their priorities in order to protect and uplift the people most likely to be affected by police violence.

“We live in a city where the Chicago Police Department takes up 40 percent of our budget, while at the same time, just a few years ago, we close over 50 public schools,” Carruthers asserted. “And so it says a lot to us about what and who are city prioritizes and who we don’t.”

“We’re calling for massive divestment and defunding of the police and investment in black communities,” added Carruthers, ” who also demanded “full decriminalization of black people in the city, be it for minor marijuana offenses or any other behaviors when other people engage in them they’re not criminalized for it.”

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