Laquan McDonald (1997?-2014) was a 17-year-old Black American teenager killed by Chicago police on the night of October 20th 2014. His killer, Jason Van Dyke, was White. McDonald was armed with a knife – but was shot in the back.
On that night, McDonald was walking down the middle of the street with a knife. He does not seem to know what is going on. Four police cars show up. McDonald is walking away from the police when one of the officers shoots him. McDonald spins and falls to the ground. For the next 13 seconds the officer keeps shooting. McDonald’s body moves only when struck by bullets. They kick away his knife – and then leave him there like a piece of trash.
He was still alive when the ambulance arrived, but died on the way to the hospital.
The next morning the medical examiner counts 16 bullets, two in the back. They all come from Van Dyke’s gun, which holds – 16 bullets. He was reloading his gun to keep shooting when the other officers stopped him.
Later that afternoon, the city newspapers dutifully repeat the lies of Pat Camden, the head of the police union. He said that McDonald came at the police with a knife, that they shot him in the chest in self-defence:
“When police tell you to drop a weapon, all you have to do is drop it.”
Of the nearby security cameras, only Burger King’s had a clear view of the scene. The police wiped out that video.
And that was it.
But then in April 2015, the family’s lawyer was able to get dashcam video from one of the police cars. This was right during an election. Rahm Emmanuel (pictured), President Obama’s former chief-of-staff, was running for re-election as mayor.
- It was just then that the state’s attorney said she and the FBI would investigate the killing.
- It was just then that the city agreed to settle out of court with the family for $5 million – even though the family had not taken them to court.
Word of the video got out through a city employee. Free-lance reporters took the city to court under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to hand over the video and the autopsy.
The city fought tooth and nail to keep the video secret. Last week, on November 19th 2015, at long last, a judge ruled that they had to make the video public. The judge gave them six days.
On November 24th, one day before the deadline, fearing riots once the video went public, the state’s attorney charged Jason Van Dyke (pictured) with first-degree murder. No grand jury necessary. Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer charged with murder for an on-duty killing in nearly 35 years.
The mayor then spoke of trust, acted as if Van Dyke was just a bad apple, and made public the video he had hid – for 400 days.
The murder trial is still to come.
Update (March 17th 2016): Thanks largely to protesters, Anita Alvarez, the prosecutor, has been voted out of office! She is also the one who let Dante Servin, the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd, off the hook. More.
– Abagond, 2015.
- The police
- Jeremy Mardis
- Rekia Boyd – also Chicago
- Jamar Clark – Minneapolis
- Sam Dubose – Cincinnati
- Tamir Rice – Cleveland
- Aiyana Jones – Detroit
- Eric Garner – New York
- Oscar Grant – Oakland
- Michael Brown – Ferguson, Missouri
- Freddie Gray – Baltimore
- grand jury