Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke charged with First Degree Murder for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald UPDATED

UPDATE: Added the video that was just uploaded to youtube. The sound isn’t working right. Couldn’t hear the gunshots, but McDonald is walking away and no threat to anyone when he was shot.

Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state’s attorney, has announced at a press conference, which is still in progress, that she has charged Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with First Degree Murder for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on October 20th of last year. The shooting, which was recorded by a dashcam video, will be released for viewing by the public later today or tomorrow

According to Ms. Alvarez, it shows Officer Van Dyke shoot McDonald twice in the upper chest. After McDonald fell to the ground, the officer emptied his 16-shot clip firing repeatedly at McDonald striking him in the scalp, neck, back, both arms, and both legs near the groin. When he ran out of bullets he replaced the empty clip with a new 16-shot clip and took aim. Another officer present prevented him from squeezing off more shots by grabbing his arm and ordering him to stop.

McDonald died on the way to a hospital.

USA Today is reporting,

Cook County Judge Donald Panarese, Jr. ordered Van Dyke be held without bail until at least Monday, when he called on prosecutors to return with the dashcam video from a police squad car that captured footage of Van Dyke shooting McDonald.

“I believe it is pertinent,” Panarese told attorneys Tuesday during the bail hearing.

Van Dyke’s attorney Daniel Herbert said his client feared for his life after police answered a call about a young man who was acting erratically. A Chicago police union official also told reporters soon after the incident that McDonald, who had PCP in his system at the time of his death and was holding a knife with a four-inch blade, lunged at the officer.

Prosecutors told the court the video clearly shows that McDonald was not advancing on Van Dyke, who started firing  six seconds after he got out of his squad car. The shots were fired over 14 to 15 second period. During 13 of the 15 seconds, McDonald was on the ground, prosecutors said.

The City of Chicago offered to settle the case months ago for $5 million even though McDonald’s family had not filed a lawsuit. That should tell you how unjustified and indefensible they regarded the shooting to be.

Although the case was settled, reporters and others pressed the police to release the dashcam video. Police refused. Eventually, they had to sue the city and the police department to force them to release it. After watching the video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel objected to releasing the video because he feared riots. Nevertheless, a Cook County judge ordered the video released no later than tomorrow.

Ms. Alvarez admitted during her press conference that she filed the charge today to beat tomorrow’s deadline. However, she denied that her office had delayed the investigation and she insisted that she had decided a month ago to charge Van Dyke with first degree murder. She said she decided to wait in order to permit the US Department of Justice and the FBI to complete their investigation.

I do not believe that, but I do agree with her charging decision because, based on what she said, the officer was not in imminent danger of being attacked when he fired, none of the officers who were present when Van Dyke arrived drew their guns or believed themselves to be in danger, the knife McDonald carried in his hand was only 3.5 inches long and the blade was folded up in the handle, McDonald did not act aggressively, and Van Dyke shot him 14 times after McDonald fell to the ground and ceased to be any threat at all.

That ain’t self-defense.

(Scroll down in the USA Today link to see the autopsy drawing that shows the entry and exit wounds)



18 Responses to Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke charged with First Degree Murder for killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald UPDATED

  1. Trained Observer says:

    A long overdue charge for the animal who masqueraded as a cop. Am beyond disappinted that Rahm Emanuel sat on that appalling video. Did he think that would never come out? Was he thinking at all?

  2. tf15 says:

    Laquan Mcdonald Black Teen Shot By White Cop Sold Out By His Own Mother For 5 Million Dollars!

  3. Disappointed says:

    Fired 16 shots. Kid lay dying on the ground and he reloads! Had it not been for the other officer he probably would have shot more. Smh. I do have a question. It’s kind of silly considering 16 shots were fired but why did no one go to Laquan and render aid? No humanity for ppl’s lives. The other officers had to know that was excessive why not hold his hand if nothing else? Am I crazy to even ask?

    • No, you’re not crazy. Police exhibited indifference toward the people they killed in all of the cases I know about. For example, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, to name two. I don’t believe they give a damn.

      I did notice that an ambulance arrived at the scene within a few minutes after Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, so there wasn’t a long delay.

  4. By the way, a couple of hours before the Kelly Thomas civil trial was due to begin on Monday morning, Kelly’s father Ron Thomas was offered a 4.9 mil settlement for his son’s beating death by police. The jury had been picked and apparently the city of Fullerton didn’t want that video aired in court – and perhaps they felt the jury would offer far more than 5m. On one hand it’s a letdown that the video wasn’t aired in court, but on another, it’s a victory in that the life of a mentally ill homeless man was shown to be no less valuable than anyone else’s.

    Orange County Prosecutor Tony Rackaukas, who put on a lukewarm case for Kelly, allowing the two murdering cops to walk, is now under fire for his controversial use of jailhouse snitches in other cases, a problem which extends back thirty years “behind the Orange curtain” in conservative Orange County, California.

  5. bettykath says:

    The cops tried to keep other video from showing up. Cops entered the nearby Burger King and deleted nearly an hour and a half of video. Now why would cops do that for a good shoot?

    • anita says:

      Yes, I tho’t I heard that. You can bet what they deleted was horrific, too. Maybe worse from a different angle. I think the military deal the Prof. speaks of is right on track as to what is happening now days. I can’t possibly remember all these cop murders anymore. Since Trayvon they have become common. It is just infuriating & so sad, too. The cops keep murdering, they’re not afraid of the cameras at all. I guess they’re so full of racism & hate they can’t help their rotten selves.

      • Malisha says:

        ALSO there was something peculiar in the lead-up (driving around) to the actual killing of McDonald. I watched with a certain kind of fascinated horror. I’m very curious about what was said and heard inside the squad car as it drove toward the final killing scene because I think a communication was received that told the cops that SOMEONE had identified and located McDonald; there was a purposeful drive toward his location and he was in the street headed away from the patrol car too soon after the car’s arrival for me to think there was not some kind of premeditated arrangement going on there. I could not get the sense of it. But THAT might have been what was erased from the nearby video.

        My guess is that McDonald was perhaps an informant and there was perhaps some need on the part of these cops for him to NOT be a live, sentient being any more at the time when the police car speeded up and made its turns more purposefully. Don’t know.

    • tf15 says:

      The Reporter that went to court and had the video released said something in an interview the other night that the person interviewing didn’t catch on to but I did, he said they were recorded deleting the video, All Burger Kings have Video Cams inside the back of the house in the Kitchen area there are 7 or 8 of them, with one in the office and facing the office, which is how the area manager knew they had sat there for 3 hours its time stamped, so while they might have got rid of the outside footage what they did not do was get rid of the video of them doing all this, From the time they entered the store and went to the back they were filmed, they had to go into to the Office and log on to the system computer using the manager password to view the video all that was recorded and is on video including from the time they sat down to do this and the time they left the store,

  6. Malisha says:

    Something else (even beyond EVERYTHING ABOUT IT) horrible about the murder of Laquan McDonald: when the City settled with the family by giving them $5 million, it made a part of the deal that the VIDEO WAS NOT TO BE DISSEMINATED. How f*cking dare any governmental entity make such a deal! There is an overriding public interest in the public knowing what the government is doing. ALL THE TIME. There is an overriding public interest in the public revelation of public acts, including but not limited to the actions of government employees in the performance of their duties (or, obviously, in the performance of murders while they’re on the clock). How DARE any attorney (for corporation counsel, for the city, for any agency or entity) make a deal with anybody that limits dissemination of public information. THIS IS NOT DEMOCRACY. This is not what can happen in a democracy. SHAME on our government!

    • From the Chicago Tribune

      The original Freedom of Information request by freelance journalist Brandon Smith requested all video files “that captured any part of the police response to Laquan McDonald….”

      The video that was released was the result of Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama’s ruling last week that the Emanuel administration had violated the state’s open records law by withholding the dash-cam footage from the freelance journalist.

      The Tribune filed its own public records request for the video in April to the Police Department, the city Law Department, and the Independent Police Review Authority. All three agencies denied the request.

      The camera footage of the video released Tuesday by City Hall did not have any sound accompanying it. “There was no audio to my knowledge with any of the video that was taken,” McCarthy said. “No, it didn’t exist.”

      Asked if that’s standard for a police dash-cam, he replied, “There’s supposed to be (audio), and it’s supposed to happen at a couple different instances. This is one of the things that we are working on.”

      The police have had 13 months to get it right. Looks to me like they were trying to get it wrong by disappearing the video. Fortunately, that did not work out for them.

  7. Malisha says:

    Just unbelievable. Just beyond belief. If we saw this video from Syria, from Lebanon, from Mexico, from Ghana, we would be talking about the armed thugs that run those lawless countries, the terrorists in control of those violent foreign places. These are our “protectors”? These gunslinging murderers are OUR PROTECTORS?

    • I believe most cops today think of themselves as an occupying army and minorities, especially blacks, as the enemy. Chicago cops have a long and storied history of brutalizing blacks and others. For example, see Jon Burge who specialized in using torture to extort confessions from suspects. Many were innocent and at least one was sentenced to death. Fortunately, he was eventually exonerated and released. Here’s an example from Wikipedia:

      In 1999, lawyers for several death row inmates began to call for a special review of the convictions based on evidence extracted by Burge and his colleagues. These inmates (Aaron Patterson; Madison Hobley; Stanley Howard; Leonard Kidd; Derrick King; Ronald Kitchen; Reginald Mahaffey; Jerry Mahaffey; Andrew Maxwell, and Leroy Orange) became known as the “Death Row 10”. In a report called the Goldston Report, the City of Chicago enumerated 50 alleged instances of police brutality and abuse by Burge and other officers. The City of Chicago struggled with the issue of coerced confessions for decades and in the 1990s it quietly reopened several controversial brutality cases. Despite an extensive investigation into the actions by a number of police employees, few others but Burge were sanctioned.

      Several politicians, including US Representative Bobby Rush, requested that State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine seek new trials for the Death Row 10 who were allegedly tortured by Burge.Devine met with representatives and supporters of the inmates and was convinced to request that the Illinois Supreme Court stay proceedings against three of the inmates. However, the Supreme Court denied Devine’s request. Rush also sought out Janet Reno to pursue federal intervention.

      In February 1999, David Protess, a Northwestern University journalism professor and his students uncovered exonerating evidence on behalf of Death Row inmate Anthony Porter. The students produced four affidavits and a videotaped statement that placed the guilt on another suspect. Recantations of testimony at trial were among the affidavits obtained. One witness claimed that he named Anthony Porter after police officers threatened, harassed and intimidated him into doing so.

      In 2000, Governor Ryan halted executions in Illinois after courts found that 13 death row inmates had been wrongfully convicted. Ryan also promised to review the cases of all Illinois death row inmates. Given the number of cases of alleged brutality, allegedly coerced inmates were offered reduced sentences in exchange for dropping charges. A plea agreement was reached with one convicted victim. Devine made a broader offer to several inmates.[97] Aaron Patterson rejected the plea.

      On January 11, 2003, having lost confidence in the state’s penal system, outgoing Republican Governor George Ryan commuted the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois’ death row. He decided to grant clemency to all death row inmates by converting death sentences to sentences of life without parole in most cases and reducing some sentences. In addition, Ryan pardoned four death row inmates: Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Leroy Orange and Stanley Howard, who were among the ten who claimed wrongful imprisonment. In the unusual proceeding, the governor took the extraordinary step of a direct pardon release rather than a court proceeding.


      The memoirs of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohammedou Slahi detail his experience undergoing enhanced interrogation at the hands of Richard Zuley, a former Chicago Police Detective.

      Spencer Ackerman, writing in The Guardian, reported settlements from lawsuits over Burge’s use of torture, and other expenses, had cost the Police Department over $100 million. Local Chicago publications identified Zuley as a protege of Burge’s. However, Ackerman states that the two officers never served together.


      On January 21, 2011, Burge was sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, who had refused to withdraw from the case. The federal probation office had recommended a 15- to 21-month sentence, while prosecutors had requested as much as 30 years. Burge served his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution Butner Low near Butner, North Carolina, about 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Raleigh, where he was Bureau of Prisons Register #50504-018. Burge’s projected release date was February 14, 2015. However, he was released from prison on October 3, 2014.

      (footnotes omitted)

      Note: Burge was not alone. He was the ring leader of a group of dirty cops that included Richard Zuley. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuted Burge who was released from prison just 17 days before Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald, killing him.

  8. Shortly after Michael Brown was killed, another young black man, Kajieme Powell, was shot and killed by police in St. Louis in much the same way as Laquan McDonald. Kajieme’s death was also caught on video – within seconds of encountering him, two police officers each shot Kajieme six times. The prosecutor recently announced what we already knew: no charges. I hope former officer Jason Van Dyke is convicted.

  9. racerrodig says:

    It boggles the mind to think that in this day and age, with all the cameras rolling that one can do something as unspeakable as this and get away with it.

    14 hits………..16 shots, WTF……………

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