Update: 8:45 p.m.: Police have released video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Dashcam footage shows McDonald running down the street as a police car pulls past him. Two officers step out of the car. McDonald turns to face them and then crumples into a heap. Bullets kick up dust and asphalt as they strike the ground around McDonald. In the original statement, police said that he punctured one of the squad car’s front tires and damaged the windshield. The statement also said that McDonald “lunged at the officers” after they told him to drop the knife. The newly released video does not appear to show any of those allegations taking place. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told CNN that Chicagoans, "have a right to be angry." Protesters have taken to the streets, walking down Michigan Avenue. At one point they linked hands and chanted “16 shots." While most reports characterize the demonstrations as peaceful, video has surfaced that shows a confrontation with police.
Original story follows.
A police officer in Chicago has been charged with first-degree murder for the 2014 killing of a black teenager — less than 24 hours before video of the shooting was set to be released per a judge’s order. Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in late October of last year. According to The Associated Press, the officers were responding to a call about someone with a knife breaking into cars and stealing radios. According to Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez, Van Dyke had been on the scene for about 30 seconds before he opened fire on the teenager, emptying his 9mm pistol of all 16 rounds. The dashboard camera on a police vehicle captured the entire incident. According to court documents describing the video, Van Dyke continued firing as McDonald lay on the pavement, “struggling to breathe.” The video also establishes that the shots went on for 14 to 15 seconds, and that for about 13 of those seconds, McDonald was already on the ground. The video, which has been described as incredibly graphic by those who have seen it, was ordered to be released by November 25. Chicagoist reported that authorities attempted to block the release of the video, saying it could hurt an investigation. Activists have been skeptical about the sincerity of the state attorney’s claims that Van Dyke would be prosecuted. The Black Youth Project said in a statement, “We have no faith that the same mayor that allowed people to starve for 34 days over a school, will be accountable to Black people just because we respond calmly to a documented hate crime committed by a Chicago police officer.” Critics are accusing Alvarez of following through with the murder charge only because of the imminent release of the video. The city has also already paid McDonald’s family a $5 million settlement, despite the fact that the family didn’t file a lawsuit. According to The New York Times, the Chicago police department has a history of abuse of Black men. One officer, Detective Jon Burge, tortured more than 100 suspects over 19 years; the city established a $5.5 million fund for his victims earlier this year. And a Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuses and wrongful convictions in the Chicago suburb of Waukegon. Van Dyke alone has 18 civilian complaints against him, including accusations of using racial slurs and excessive force. He was not punished for any of the complaints. Van Dyke faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.