Disturbing Video: Chicago Cop Guns Down Laquan McDonald
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Nov 24, 2015 11:40PM
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 10:15 a.m.: Hundreds of protesters marched through Chicago in response to the video release and at least five were arrested.
The Chicago Police Department has released the chilling footage of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a teenager 16 times in 2014.
In the video, embedded below, teenager Laquan McDonald is seen walking away from police, getting hit with bullets, falling and hitting the ground hard, and shaking as a police officer empties the entire magazine of his gun into McDonald as smoke from the bullets flies.
On the eve of the release of the damning video, city officials urged for a peaceful and calm response.
The police officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, and earlier this year the city paid a nearly $5 million settlement to the family of the teenager, 17-year-old McDonald.
The details of the shooting, enumerated in court and police documents, are troubling and sketch an outline of a gruesome death for McDonald, who was reportedly fleeing from a group of police officers while holding a knife when he was shot twice by Van Dyke, then shot 14 more times even after he had fallen to the ground with critical wounds.
"I understand that people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video, but i would like to echo the comments of the McDonald family," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the Tuesday evening press conference. "They've asked for calm and for those who choose to speak out to do it peacefully. They do not want violence to be resorted to in Laquan's name."
Rahm and CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy called for calm several times throughout the press conference. McCarthy said his department was preparing for the worst but not expecting it: "We are not predicting doom and gloom, we are predicting protests."
McCarthy noted that there would be no audio in the video his department was set to release.
Rahm took pains to distance Van Dyke's actions from the CPD. He told reporters, "Jason Van Dyke does not represent the police department."
Emanuel tried to strike a balance between citizen's impressions of the police and the way police treat citizens in his remarks.
"We need as a city to get to a point where young men see an officer and don't just see an officer with a uniform and a badge... and for police see a young man not as a potential problem, as a risk, but also an individual worthy of their protection," he said.
Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez defended her decision to charge him with murder earlier Tuesday. Some community activists are calling for Alvarez to resign over her handling of the case, arguing that she is "protecting the police" to the detriment of Cook County residents. Rahm dismissed that, saying "No one is being protected because of their title or position."
At least 50 people gathered in front of an office on Maxwell Street from 4 to 5 p.m. demanding to be let into what was reportedly a community meeting of religious and community leaders about the video. They were denied entry by police and representatives of her office. Some chanted demanding her resignation.
“Once again, Anita Alvarez has decided to protect the police over the people of Cook County. There is no good reason why she has waited this long to file charges against Officer Van Dyke,” Rev. Charles Straight, a leader of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation said in a statement Tuesday evening. “The fact that it took 396 days for Alvarez to file charges in this case is shameful, and the question we have to ask is 'why now?'”