On October 20th of last year, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke. As you might expect in today's climate, McDonald was black and Van Dyke is white, adding yet another racially-charged murder to the history books.
Chicago has been preparing for the release of the dash-cam video of the scene, clearly showing McDonald being shot. Overall, 16 bullets pierced his skin, a number that is quite staggering. Protesters have taken to the streets to voice their anger over the loss of another young life, chanting "16 shots". Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged the people of the Windy City to work together in peace, stating, "I believe this is a moment that can build bridges of understanding rather than become a barrier of misunderstanding. I understand that the people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video. We as a city must rise to this moment."
A judge ordered that the video be released publicly no later than Wednesday. The Cook County State's Attorney announced today that the video would be released. The Attorney, Anita Alvarez, said that officials had been holding off on the footage release so that the investigation wouldn't be jeopardized in any way. Upon announcing the video, she also said that she would be charging Van Dyke with 1st degree murder. No officer before this moment has been charged of 1st degree murder in this context, adding another depressing statistic to the mix.
McDonald was armed with a 3-inch knife when Officer Van Dyke confronted the teenager. After being asked to drop the knife numerous times, and not complying, the officer attacked. The attorney for the officer, Daniel Herbert states that, Van Dyke "believe he was in fear for an attack and for the safety of anyone else on the scene." Herbert also stated that his client is "scared to death, but more than himself he's scare for his wife, his two kids... he knows in his heart of hearts that his actions were appropriate."
Van Dyke did turn himself in and has been in a "limited duty position" since the departmental investigation began. He is now no longer being paid by the police.
Judge Donald Panarese Jr. is overlooking the case and has temporarily denied bond to Van Dyke. A final determination on bond should be decided by next Monday, giving the judge enough time to review the footage.