Chicago Police releases video of police killing black man

The Chicago Police releases dashcam video footage showing moment of police shooting young black man Laquan McDonald

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Demonstrators hold signs bearing the name of Laquan McDonald during protests in Chicago, Illinois November 24, 2015

Video footage has been released on Tuesday by Chicago police department, a year after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 17-year old black man, Laquan Mcdonald amid the aftermath of the latest fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man Jamar Clark in Minneapolis.

On the same day, white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke who previously said his act was justified because he felt threatened by Mcdonald, has been charged with first degree murder as several hundred people including protesters, local community and advocates took to the streets of Chicago.

The dashcam video shows a police officer approaching Laquan McDonald, who was running down a Chicago street, and immediately firing his gun at the black teen and shooting 15 more times, despite the teen collapsing to the ground with the first shot.  

The police officers said the teen was carrying a knife. However, video footage shows that he kept his distance to officers and moved away from them right before he was shot dead, without so much as an attempt for arrest. 

“The officer’s actions were not justified and were not a proper use of deadly force,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez at a news conference adding that she has never seen such a “violent”, “chilling” shooting in her three decades in law enforcement.

She also stated some civilians have witnessed the incident. One of the witnesses told officials that he didn’t see any threatening move by McDonald against the officers.

Van Dyke’s lawyer Daniel Herbert stated that his client feared for his life and objected the court’s decision.

“We believe we have a valid defense in this case,” he told reporters.

“Despite what you heard in that courtroom, this is not a murder case,”

The video footage came one year after the incident, due to the joint effort of human rights activists and media.

An independent journalist, Brandon Smith has sued the Chicago Police Department due to the Freedom of Information Act, “the policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and official acts” after the department refused to produce the dashcam footage.

On Tuesday, the judge ordered the Chicago Police Department to release the dashcam video by November 25.

The footage was released after a press briefing by Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on late Tuesday.

"People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest. People have a right to free speech. But they do not have a right to ... criminal acts," McCarty said.

McDonald’s family urged Chicago to stay calm in a statement they had given, after the release of the video.

“No one understands the anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful. Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name, let his legacy be better than that.”

Burger King Security Video Footage Deleted

Some details emerged in May, before the release of the police dashcam footage.

NBC News Chicago reported that security video footage of Burger King restaurant located close to the scene was deleted by “four to five police officers” within a couple of hours following the incident.

The Discrict Manager for Burger King Jay Darshane said, the police officers entered the restaurant after the shootings, wanted to see the video and deleted the 86 minutes of the video that ran from 9:13 pm to 10:39 pm, in the three hours they stayed in the restaurant.

"We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files. I mean we were just trying to help the police officers," Darshane said.

The Independent Police Review Authority discovered the missing part of the security video when they asked Burger King to show footage that belongs to the day of incident.

IPRA immediately denied the claims of Darshane saying that they had no credible evidence at that time, which led them to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video.

On the other hand, Darshane said on Tuesday that some other authorities had visited him and he that he will likely testify in the case. He didn’t give any details because he said that he’s been told not to speak about the case.

Demonstrators block the street with a sign during rally in Chicago, Illinois November 24, 2015

Rally in Chicago streets

Shortly after the release of video footage, hundreds of protesters gathered close to the South Side area in Chicago. Some chanted: “16 shots”.

“I’m so hurt and so angry,” said an activist and pastor over the video footage.

“I can feel the pain through my body,” he added.

The protest over the recent video footage came in the wake of attacks against Minneapolis “Black Lives Matter” protesters, who have been demanding video footage showing the moment of the fatal police shooting on October 15.

Witnesses say that twenty-four-year-old disarmed Jamar Clark was shot by the police in the head as he was being handcuffed.

Black community leaders, politicians and church leaders in Austin neihborhood repeated the advice of McDonalds' parents saying that demonstrations should be peaceful.

"Regardless of what this tape reveals, we want the community to exercise first amendment rights and demand justice, but to do it peacefully and effectively," said Community activist William Calloway, who defended the right of those concerned to reach complete information regarding the actual act of the police officer and opened way for the release of the footage with journalist Brandon Smith.

TRTWorld and agencies