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

November 24, 2015

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)



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