CHICAGO (AP) — Several hundred protesters amassed on the streets of Chicago a second day in response to the city’s Tuesday release of a squad-car video showing a white police officer fatally shoot a black teenager.
Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times.
Here’s a look at what’s happened so far and what’s to come:
On the night of Oct. 20, 2014, police responded to a call of a teen with a knife. Witnesses said he was breaking into cars and stealing radios.
Police have said McDonald refused their orders to drop the knife and walked away from them. The police union also said that at one point McDonald lunged at officers with the knife.
The video released Tuesday shows McDonald jogging down an empty lane on a four-lane street and then veering away from Van Dyke and another officer who emerge from a police SUV drawing their guns. Within seconds, Van Dyke begins firing. McDonald spins around and falls to the pavement as Van Dyke keeps shooting.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Van Dyke emptied his weapon before his partner stepped forward and kicked the knife away from McDonald.
Alvarez said police later recovered a knife with a 3-inch blade that was folded into the handle.
An autopsy report showed McDonald had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system.
THE VIDEO RELEASE
A freelance journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the video after learning of the shooting, but the Chicago Police Department refused to release it, saying it could hurt investigations.
Activists and attorneys argued the public had a right to see the video, and last week a Cook County judge agreed. He gave the city until Wednesday to make it public.
At a joint news conference Tuesday evening, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discouraged the kind of unrest seen in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody.
Emanuel and McCarthy described the shooting of McDonald as an unusual and tragic incident, and the mayor noted that McDonald’s family had asked people not to resort to violence.
Alvarez said Tuesday she decided to announce the charges against Van Dyke earlier than planned because of the video’s release. But she said the video becoming public wasn’t a factor in her decision to charge him with first-degree murder.
She said it was clear McDonald didn’t pose a threat to the officer and that his use of force was improper.
Alvarez also defended the length of time it took to file charges. She said her office has been working with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office since mid-November on an active, joint criminal investigation and that police-involved shootings are “highly complex” cases that take longer than typical shootings to investigate.
Van Dyke turned himself in Tuesday, and a judge ordered him held without bond.
The 37-year-old has been a Chicago police officer since 2001. He is married and has two children.
His attorney, Dan Herbert, said the officer has never been disciplined.
But Van Dyke was the subject of 18 civilian complaints over 14 years, including allegations that he used racial epithets and excessive force, police and court records show. At least one complaint was linked to a civil trial where jurors awarded damages to someone he arrested.
Herbert said Van Dyke feared for his life when he fired at McDonald and that the case should be tried in the courtroom, not in social media or on city streets.
McCarthy said the officer, who had been on desk duty during the investigation, is no longer being paid. Another bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Hundreds of people have participated in demonstrations in and near downtown Chicago, including City Hall, since the video was released. A few people have been arrested, and a charge of aggravated battery of a police officer was dropped against one person on Wednesday.
A large protest is planned Friday at the city’s famed Michigan Avenue shopping area.