Yesterday was a monumental day in Chicago. For the first time in Chicago, a police officer has been charged with murder for a death that occurred during service. Outrage and calls for justice have been almost non-stop in Chicago since the October officer involved 2014 shooting death off Laquan McDonald.
Protesters and police clashed last night in Chicago as protesters took to the street enraged by the dash cam footage that was released yesterday afternoon. The residents of the city as well for many on the internet have been calling for the dash cam footage to be released for over a year now. It took for a lawsuit to be filed independently by journalist Brandon Smith, who filed a FIOA which resulted in last weeks ruling that the footage MUST be released.
Just hours before the footage was released to the public the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez publicly announced murder charges against the cop involved, Officer Jason Van Dyke. The dash cam footage plainly refutes the story of Officer Van Dyke who claimed in his official report that he shot the teen after he had “lunged at him”. The footage clearly shows LaQuan, who at the time high on PCP and wielding a small knife, walking down the center of the street. He was in no way threatening to any officer, attempting to avoid them when suddenly he was hit by gunfire and fell to the ground. While on the ground you could see his body jerk as more bullets flew into him. 16 bullets entered his body in total.
The night of the shooting Pat Camden, the FOP representative made a statement saying The officers were in fear for their lives, the former spokesman for the Chicago Police Department told news cameras. Jason Van Dyke, “discharged his weapon, striking the offender. The “I was in fear of my life” card has been played by almost every officer who has faced a controversial shooting lately. However the footage makes it clear that could not have been the case. In fact, the most damaging part of the video is the time it took the officer to decide this young man must be shot. It’s noted that Officer Van Dyke had been on the scene less than 6 seconds before he opened fire on McDonald. The footage also makes it hard to ignore the fact that after LaQuan McDonald was on the ground wounded, Officer McDonald continued to pump at least 10 more shots in his body. What we can’t see on video but has been put in an official report by Officer Van Dyke’s partner is that after he had unloaded his whole clip into the young man, officer Van Dyke attempted to reload his gun. At which time his partner told him to “hold his fire” while he goes up to LaQuan and kicks the small knife out of his hand, which can be seen on video.
Officer Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder and has been ordered held without bail at least until Monday. That didn’t stop his wife, Tiffany Van Dyke from starting a Go Fund Me campaign to attempt to raise his bail. She tried to ask for money without mentioning the officer by name instead calling him a “15 year Veteran officer fighting for his freedom and justice” She went on to share that “He is a highly decorated and respected officer. He was in a shooting that has been covered extensively by the media and we ask for your patience for all the facts to come out in the trial. We want him to be home with his family as we go through this judicial process.” As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, donors had given more than $10,000 of the $80,000 sought. The page, which also attracted many negative statements was taken down at 11 a.m. Fraternal Order of Police leaders sent out an email Tuesday night to all current and retired FOP members asking them to contribute to a fundraising effort for bail money once his bond is set.
Highly decorated? While that may be true it is also true that this 15 year veteran officer had At least 18 citizen complaints according to the database have been filed against him though he was never disciplined, according to a University of Chicago database. Eight complaints alleged excessive force and two involving the use of a firearm and there have been accusations of racial slurs. You can see ALL of his complaints here.
Though he has never been disciplined the city paid out a $350,000 settlement in 2007 after a federal jury in a civil case found that Officer Van Dyke and his partner at the time had used excessive force in handcuffing a suspect. For more information on the officer’s misdeeds check out 5 Facts You need To Know About Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Over night tensions mounted in Chicago as police and protesters both took to the street. People are outraged after seeing the graphic video that it took so long to charge the officer. Hundreds of protesters took to the street last night and early this morning. Videos of the tense encounters between the police and protesters have started to make their way to the internet. Protesters marched chanting “16 Shots” which is the amount of bullets which riddled the body of LaQuan Mcdonald.
The McDonald family has issued a statement asking for peace in the wake of the video being released. “No one understands the anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful,” the statement said. “Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name, let his legacy be better than that.” The family who never filed a wrongful death lawsuit and did not want the footage released, already has settled with the city, accepting 5 Millions dollars in April of this year.