Video of Laquan McDonald's killing released as Chicago braces for protests
Chicago authorities pleaded for calm Tuesday as they released a "disturbing" dashcam video of the moment a cop shot Chicago 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times last year.
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 37, turned himself in Tuesday morning and was ordered held without bond on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Laquan in October 2014.
"Anyone who is there to uphold the law cannot act as though they are above the law," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference late Tuesday afternoon. "Jason Van Dyke does not represent the police department."
Noting that Laquan's family had also urged a peaceful reaction, Emanuel asked: "Will we use this episode in this moment to build bridges, or will we allow this episode to tear us apart?"
The six-minute, 53-second video has no audio — police said none was ever recorded.
About five minutes, 20 seconds in, it shows a young man, later identified as Laquan, walking down the middle of a street as multiple officers draw their weapons. One of the officers appears to fire his weapon, and the man spins and collapses on his right side.
His body continues to jerk as more shots apparently are fired into him; then an officer walks up and kicks something out his hand. Police have said Laquan was carrying a 3-inch-long knife.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he had been expecting — and dreading — this day for a long time.
"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 commit criminal acts," McCarthy said.
"Every day in this city, you see thousands of officers performing admirably," he said. "The officer in this case took a young man's life, and he's going to have to account for his actions."
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Van Dyke emptied his gun and prepared to reload, but lawyers for Van Dyke have said the shooting was justified because he felt threatened.
Prosecutors said in court, however, that the video "clearly does not show McDonald advancing" on the officer. Laquan, they said, was on the ground for 13 of the 15 seconds Van Dyke repeatedly fired.
McDonald was wounded in 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.
"It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez told reporters after Van Dyke's hearing. "This video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans."
Alvarez said that Van Dyke was at the scene for less than 30 seconds before he started shooting and that he opened fire only six seconds after he got out of his car. Of the eight officers at the scene, Van Dyke was the only one to open fire, she said.
Dan Herbert, an attorney for Van Dyke, agreed that the video is "difficult to watch," but he said it doesn't clarify whether Van Dyke acted inappropriately in shooting Laquan, who an autopsy showed had PCP, or angel dust, in his system.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Laquan's family asked the city to remain calm to honor the young man.
"As we have said in the past, while we would prefer that the video not be released, we understand that a court has ordered otherwise," the family said.
"We ask for calm in Chicago. No one understands the anger more than us, but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful," they said. "Don't resort to violence in Laquan's name. Let his legacy be better than that."
The City of Chicago has paid Laquan's family $5 million. Van Dyke was placed on "no-pay" status.
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