Just over a year ago, black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Most of the shots were fired after McDonald was already on the ground.
Now, disturbing dashcam video of the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting has been released in accordance with a court order sought by reporters, the American Civil Liberties Union and others.
The video can be seen here. The shooting — which is graphic — begins shortly after the five-minute mark:
Prior to the video’s release, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said that Van Dyke would be held responsible for the shooting.
“He’s going to have to account for his actions,” he said, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
The city of Chicago settled with the family over the shooting for $5 million. But the ordeal is far from over. On Tuesday, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and denied bail.
“Anyone who is there to uphold the law cannot act like they are above the law,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, adding that the officer had violated “basic moral standards.”
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us for the city,” he also said, calling for peace in the wake of the video’s release. “Let’s work together.”
The police union of which Van Dyke is a member said that it was “standing by” the officer, whose lawyer claimed Van Dyke’s actions were “were not only lawful but also within department policy and within his training,” according to the report.
Van Dyke and his partner had responded to other officers’ requests for backup, but Van Dyke started shooting at McDonald from about 10 feet away less than 30 seconds after arriving. McDonald was reportedly carrying a three-inch knife with a folding blade and had PCP in his system.
The teen had allegedly been stealing radios out of trucks prior to his death.
At the time, McDonald did not appear to be threatening the officers present and, in fact, appeared to be trying to get away from them.
Van Dyke emptied his firearm into the teen and, when he paused to reload, was told by his partner to stop shooting.
Of the nine or more officers on the scene, only Van Dyke fired at McDonald.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reportedly found that McDonald was shot at least twice while standing and at least once while on the ground. He received wounds to his “scalp, neck, left chest, right chest, left elbow, left forearm, right upper arm, right hand, right upper leg, left upper back and right lower back,” according to the report.
In addition to Emanuel, McCarthy and McDonald’s family asked for calm.
“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,” a statement from the family read.
“We will be intolerant of criminal behavior,” McCarthy added.
But in an America already troubled with racial tension unseen in decades, the release of this footage is unlikely to lower anyone’s anxiety. But this video represents a part of the truth of what occurred that night, and truth is what we must use to form our judgments.
Obviously, there will be more evidence about Officer Van Dyke’s guilt or innocence than this short video. But, just as obviously, if this officer did in fact ignore “basic moral standards” when he shot this teenager 16 times, he must be made to pay for it.
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