( 4UMF NEWS ) Chicago Cop To Be Charged With Murder:
A white Chicago police officer who a squad car dashcam video showed fatally shooting an African-American teenager 16 times last year will be indicted on murder charges on Tuesday, according to multiple news reports.
Officer Jason Van Dyke, 37, will face first-degree murder charges for the Oct. 20, 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, according to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, who cite anonymous sources. The Tribune says Van Dyke will appear for a bond hearing around midday.
The charges against Van Dyke come as Chicago braces for the court-ordered release this week of the dashcam video.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday spoke with activists in a conference call and also held meetings with pastors and activists to discuss the forthcoming release of footage that shows McDonald being gunned down by Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.
They mayor’s office said that Emanuel discussed the way forward for Chicago in the aftermath of the release of the video, which a Cook County Circuit judge last week ordered the city to release by Wednesday.
Reporters weren’t allowed to listen to the call or attend the meeting with pastors. One activist who took part in the call, Andy Thayer, said Emanuel only spoke for a few minutes. He said Emanuel told activists that police “have a responsibility to uphold the law” and “must never abuse it.” Thayer said Emanuel did not take questions, though participants were told ahead of the call that he would.
Emanuel also addressed the possibility of protests after the video’s release and said Chicagoans must “use their First Amendment right, but to do it in a focused way,” reports the Tribune, which said it gained access to the conference call through a participant.
In comments to reporters on Monday, Emanuel sought to tamp down speculation that protests could become violent.
“Your job is to report the news, not to see what events to create and then try to report on that,” Emanuel said. “Just as a caution to the press, you have a role to play too.”
For months, Emanuel resisted releasing the the video, citing ongoing federal and state probes into the shooting death of McDonald.The city was sued for violating state open record law by independent journalist Brandon Smith, and Judge Franklin Valderrama on Thursday issued the Wednesday deadline.
Following Valderrama’s order, Emanuel said he hoped it was enough time for prosecutors to bring their year-long investigation of an officer “who violated that (public) trust at every level” to a conclusion “so Chicago can begin to heal.”
A federal law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing, told USA TODAY on Monday that it is unlikely that the federal investigation would be completed ahead of the release of the video footage. Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, said the state probe was ongoing. She declined to say whether the agency’s criminal investigation would be completed prior to the video’s release.
Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, did not respond to requests for comment.
Attorneys for McDonald’s family and Van Dyke have viewed the footage and described the content as graphic and unsettling. Police had said they were pursuing McDonald after receiving a 911 call from someone who said that a knife-wielding man had threatened him and appeared to be trying to break into cars.
A police union official also said shortly after the incident that McDonald, who had PCP in his system at the time of his death, was acting erratically and that Van Dyke felt his life was in jeopardy.
While Van Dyke repeatedly fired at McDonald, five other police officers at the scene did not fire their weapons. Michael Robbins, an attorney for the McDonald family, said that the video shows the teen was walking away from the officer when gunned down.
Chicago’s city council in April approved a $5 million settlement be paid to the McDonald family. Van Dyke has been stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty since the incident more than a year ago.
Rev. Jedidiah Brown, a pastor and activist who attended two meetings Emanuel held on the video on Monday, said the mayor “still ain’t saying the right things as far as I’m concerned.”
“We told him, ‘I understand you got to deal with a bureaucracy, but we can’t feel the heart of our mayor,” said Brown, who endorsed Emanuel’s reelection effort earlier this year. He added that the mayor was told, “We don’t know if you’re sorry that this happened, or if you’re sorry we’re about to find out how bad it really was.”
Thayer said that Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy should also be held responsible for McDonald incident and criticized the administration for resisting release of the video.
The mayor, who won a second term in April, has faced criticism from some activists for doing too little to address distrust in the African-American community about the police department.
Earlier this year, an off-duty Chicago police officer, Dante Servin, was acquitted for the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, who was wounded in the back of the head. McCarthy announced late Monday that he would move to fire Servin.
The department agreed in August to begin tracking all street stops of citizens by its officers and improve training procedures after an ACLU study showed that 72% of “stop-and-frisk” searches in the city were conducted on African-American men.
At least a dozen black alderman also called for McCarthy’s ouster last month, citing a rising homicide rate in the city and complaining that the superintendent hasn’t hired and promoted enough African-American officers.
“If Rahm Emanuel wants to look at why there might be a problem with violence when this video is released, he needs to look in the mirror,” Thayer said.
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