( 4UMF NEWS ) Chicago Releases Video Of Cop Shooting Teen:
Police and elected officials in Chicago were bracing for strong public reaction after a white police officer was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday for fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times. The city publicly released a potentially-explosive video of the incident.
The announcement of the charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke come as the city faced a court-ordered Wednesday deadline to release video from a squad car dashcam of the Oct. 20, 2014 incident. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez described the video, which shows Van Dyke unloading 16 shots on 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, as grim.
“It is graphic, it is violent, it is chilling,” Alvarez told reporters after Van Dyke appeared in court Tuesday.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a press conference that the video is now available to the public and that residents should remain calm and collected in the days ahead. The city’s download link provided to the media was beset by heavy traffic and did not seem able to keep up with the demand for the video, but NBC Chicago was able to upload it.
McCarthy said the department was ready to help facilitate peaceful protests but would not tolerate criminal activity.
“We as the city of Chicago, all of us, have to make an important judgment about ourselves and our city as we go forward,” Emanuel said.
Alvarez said she made her decision weeks ago to charge Van Dyke, but had delayed announcing while federal authorities completed their parallel investigation of the incident.But after a judge ordered the release of the dashcam video by Wednesday, Alvarez said it was necessary to move up her office’s timeline even as her federal counterparts continue to their investigation.
“I felt compelled in the interest of public safety to announce these state charges today, ” Alvarez said.
Van Dyke arrived at the Cook County criminal courthouse on Tuesday morning with his lawyer by his side to turn himself in, and ignored questions shouted to him by reporters who awaited his arrival. It marked the first time in more than 30 years that a Chicago police officer had been charged with first-degree murder for a fatality while in uniform.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said Van Dyke repeatedly shotMcDonald after the young man had an encounter with police officers.
Cook County Judge Donald Panarese, Jr. ordered Van Dyke be held without bail until at least Monday, when he called on prosecutors to return with the dashcam video from a police squad car that captured footage of Van Dyke shooting McDonald.
“I believe it is pertinent,” Panarese told attorneys during the bail hearing.
Van Dyke’s attorney Daniel Herbert said his client feared for his life after police answered a call about a young man who was acting erratically. A Chicago police union official also told reporters soon after the incident that McDonald, who had PCP in his system at the time of his death and was holding a knife with a three-inch blade, lunged at the officer.
Prosecutors told the court the video clearly shows that McDonald was not advancing on Van Dyke, who started firing six seconds after he got out of his squad car. The shots were fired over 14 to 15 second period. During 13 of the 15 seconds, McDonald was on the ground, prosecutors said.
The city had resisted releasing the video, citing federal and state probes into the incident. A Cook County Circuit Court judge, however, set the deadline last week after independent journalist Brandon Smith sued the city. Smith argued the city had violated state’s open record law by failing to release the video.
“I would just state that judgement made the comfort of their living room on their sofa is not the same as the perspective from my client’s,” Herbert said.
Michael Robbins, an attorney for McDonald’s family, said the video shows that the teen was walking away from Van Dyke when he fired. Five other police officers at the scene did not fire a shot. In April, Chicago’s city council approved a $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family.
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