Chicago charges officer in black teen’s death, releases video of shooting
CHICAGO – Reuters
AFP photoA white Chicago policeman was charged with murdering a black teenager on Nov. 24, hours before authorities released a graphic video showing the youth walking away from officers as he is shot 16 times.
The footage of last year’s shooting, taken from a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car and made public under orders from a judge, prompted mostly peaceful street demonstrations in Chicago.
The clip showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who authorities said was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system, as he was gunned down in the middle of a street on Oct. 20, 2014, as he was jogging away from patrol vehicles pursuing him from behind.
The video, and prosecutors’ account of the shooting, contradicted assertions by Van Dyke’s lawyers and the police union that the shooting was justified because Van Dyke felt threatened by the youth.
McDonald’s death came at a time of intense national debate over police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.
Officer Jason Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer charged with murder for an on-duty incident in decades.
Hundreds of protesters gathered after dark a few miles east of the site of the shooting. They marched through the streets chanting: “You don’t get to kill us and tell us how to feel. You don’t get to shoot us and tell us how to heal.”
Police said two protesters were arrested after a scuffle on Michigan Avenue.
Prosecutors said Van Dyke fired the shots within 30 seconds of arriving at the scene, and just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload. McDonald was hit by 16 rounds, all from Van Dyke’s weapon, the prosecutors added.
“Clearly, this officer went overboard and he abused his authority, and I don’t think use of force was necessary,” prosecutor Alvarez said at a news conference after Van Dyke’s initial hearing.
Van Dyke was denied bail at a hearing in Chicago’s main criminal courthouse hours after the criminal charge was announced. He could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted.