Chicago Cop Released After Posting Bail For Killing Teen

Photo: Handout/Getty Images.
Last week, Jason Van Dyke, a white Chicago police officer, was charged with first-degree murder for shooting and killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was Black. On Monday, Judge Donald Panarese, Jr. set Van Dyke's bond at $1.5 million, and he was released the same day after posting bail. Van Dyke needed to post 10% of the bond — $150,000 — to be released on bail. Van Dyke had been in jail since he was charged. He was released shortly after 6:00 p.m. local time.

The first-degree murder charge comes after a year of protests and debate over police force, police killings, and racial profiling. Racial justice activists have demonstrated against the city's slow response to the killing.

Van Dyke shot McDonald on October 20, 2014. Dashcam footage of the event shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald — the officer reportedly fired at McDonald 16 times. After the video was released, Chicago protesters walked down Michigan Avenue chanting "16 shots." USA Today notes that as the scene appears in the video, 13 of the shots were fired while McDonald was on the ground. According to The Associated Press, Van Dyke confronted McDonald after responding to a call about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.

The video was only released after a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and a judge ordered the city to make it public. People "have a right to be angry" about the events, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told CNN after Van Dyke was charged. "People have a right to protest, people have a right to free speech," he added,"But they do not have a right to commit criminal acts."

Meanwhile, Van Dyke's attorney has argued that his client acted in self-defense after McDonald lunged at him with a knife, but the video does not reflect this claim. The manager of a Burger King, near where McDonald was shot, has also said that police erased surveillance video from the time of the shooting.

If he is convicted, Van Dyke could face up to 20 years in prison. Separately, the city of Chicago agreed to pay McDonald's family $5 million in April, although the family had not filed a lawsuit.
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