Tuesday, November 24, 2015

GRAPHIC: Police Release Video of Officer Shooting Laquan McDonald

At the Chicago Tribune, "Chicago releases dash-cam video of fatal shooting after cop charged with murder," and "A moment by moment account of what the Laquan McDonald video shows."

Also, at WSJ, "Chicago Officials Urge Calm as Police-Shooting Video Is Released":

CHICAGO—A city police officer was charged with murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting in 2014 of a black teenager, and hours later officials released a graphic video showing the white officer repeatedly firing at the 17-year-old.

The video of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald was released after a news conference held by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

City leaders said they understood the footage, taken from a camera on a police car dashboard, would be disturbing, but they urged the public not to resort to violence.

“I understand that people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video,” Mr. Emanuel said, but added that the family of Mr. McDonald had urged people to conduct any protest peacefully.

Mr. McDonald died on Oct. 20, 2014, after officers responded to reports of a man breaking into vehicles.

The video shows Mr. McDonald jogging down the middle of a street. He slows to a walk as he approaches two police cruisers that have pulled in ahead of him. He is holding a small knife at his side.

Two officers hop out of one of the vehicles and point their guns at Mr. McDonald as the teen veers away from them.

Mr. McDonald is a car-lane’s-width away when Officer Jason Van Dyke opens fire, the bullets twisting the teen’s body and sending him to the ground. Puffs of smoke can be seen rising from his body, which prosecutors say is from the officer’s continued gunfire.

None of the other officers on the scene opened fire on Mr. McDonald. Police later recovered a knife with a three-inch blade, prosecutors said.

The video doesn’t show Mr. McDonald advancing on Mr. Van Dyke. An initial police version of the shooting, contained in the medical examiner’s report, said the teenager had lunged at the officers with a knife, leading an officer to open fire. A Chicago police spokesman didn’t respond to questions about that initial account.

The video’s release came after Mr. Van Dyke turned himself in to authorities Tuesday. The first-degree murder charge carries a potential penalty of life in prison.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the decision to prosecute was made because Mr. Van Dyke hadn’t faced an immediate threat from Mr. McDonald and because he continued to fire at the teen as he lay on the ground after being shot. The youth was hit by 16 shots.

“Clearly this officer went overboard, and he abused his authority, and I don’t believe the force was necessary,” she said at a separate Tuesday news conference.

Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, said he expects to prevail at trial. He has said the officer was protecting himself and others.

“This is a case that needs to be tried in a courtroom,” said Mr. Herbert. “This is a case that can’t be tried on the streets. It can’t be tried in the media. It can’t be tried on Facebook.”

Ms. Alvarez said that while she had made the decision to charge the officer internally in recent weeks, the announcement was moved up because of the imminent release of the video.

Mr. Van Dyke, who is 37-years-old, appeared in court Tuesday wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. A judge denied him bail, saying he wanted to view the video before setting bond.

Jeffrey Neslund, an attorney for Mr. McDonald’s family, said they were thankful that the officer had been charged and urged a peaceful response to the video’s release.

“We hope that Laquan will finally get justice,” Mr. Neslund said. “We hope that the city of Chicago will remain peaceful and any demonstrations will be nonviolent.”

The video was ordered released Wednesday by a circuit court judge who ruled last week the footage is subject to public-disclosure laws.

Mayor Emanuel, pastors and community activists have been meeting in recent days in the face of concerns the video could touch off violence in the nation’s third-largest city.

Cities such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore have experienced rioting, looting and vandalism in response to police shootings. But there also have been peaceful protests in many U.S. cities amid a growing call for changes in the use of police force, particularly against black men...