Chicago police late Tuesday released graphic dash cam video vividly showing the murder of a Black teen by a white police officer in that city last year.
The video, which was ordered by a judge to be released no later than Wednesday, shows 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot while he was walking away from police and continuing to be shot while already lying motionless on the ground. According to officials, he was shot 16 times.
OfficerJason Van Dykeon Tuesday was charged with first-degree murder and turned himself in prior to the video’s release. He was on modified duty since the shooting, but is no longer being paid by the police department and is being held without bond.
Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez said she announced the charges against Van Dyke sooner than planned due to the video’s impending release. “I do not want the public to view this video without knowing this very important context that with these charges we are bringing a full measure of justice that this demands.”
The city had resisted releasing the video saying its release could jeopardize the investigation into the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting, but a Cook County Circuit Court judge said the video must be released after a journalist sued the city arguing that it hadviolated the state’s open records law.
“We did not want to do anything that might interfere with the ongoing investigation,” the city said in a statement. “For example, releasing a video during a pending investigation has the potential to compromise eyewitness testimony because witnesses may adjust their testimony to fit what they or others perceive in the video.”
Chicago had been preparing for protests in advance of the video’s release, and minor protests were reported late Tuesday and Wednesday morning, but nothing to the extent of what took place in Ferguson, Mo., or Baltimore following the deaths of Blacks at the hands of white police officers. Small crowds were seen marching through downtown streets Tuesday night chanting “16 shots” in reference to the number of times McDonald was shot.
In court documents, prosecutors said the video clearly shows that McDonald was not advancing on police, as Van Dyke has claimed. Additionally, prosecutors said, Van Dyke beganfiring six seconds after leavinghis police car and fired over a 14 to 15 second period 13 seconds of which McDonald was already on the ground.
In the video, McDonald is seeing running, then walking in the street toward and away from several police cars. At one point, he veers away from two police officers who have their guns drawn and is standing more than 10 feet away when he appears to be hit, spins around, then falls to the ground, at which point his body continues to be hit with bullets, sending puffs of smoke into the air.
A police officer is then seen kicking an item out of McDonald’s hand. Police have said the item was a three-inch knife that McDonald had been using to slash car tires.
In announcing the release of the video, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel saidresidents should remain calm and not resort to violence. “I understand that the people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video,” he said. “We as a city must rise to this moment.”
In April, Chicago’s city council approved a $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family over his death.