Chicago cop charged in deadly shooting has a history of misconduct complaints

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago policeman charged with murder in shooting black teen 16 times, video released.

In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. (Source: AP) A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times last year was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing that many people fear could spark unrest. City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the dash-cam video, fearing the kind of unrest that occurred in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. Crowds stopped traffic in downtown Chicago in the hours after the video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot dead was made public on judge’s orders.

Moments after Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy released the video that the city had fought to withhold for much of the year, the footage quickly spread across the Internet and national television broadcasts. Laquan is seen striding down the middle of a two-way street and appears to be carrying a knife when the dashboard camera of a police patrol vehicle records the moment that two officers point handguns at him. At the end of the 16-second ordeal, Van Dyke’s partner kicks away a knife McDonald was carrying, which was the only thing that prevented Van Dyke from reloading his weapon.

He turns briefly toward one of the officers and is then shot, the impact of the first bullet apparently spinning him around before he collapses on the street. Anticipating the likelihood of street demonstrations here, Emanuel and McCarthy worked to minimize the public fallout in a city with a long, sordid history of police misconduct. As the details of the McDonald shooting continued to unfold, McCarthy also moved to address another controversial shooting involving one of his officers.

Late Monday, the city’s top cop announced that after two months of deliberation, he had decided to move to fire Chicago police Detective Dante Servin for his involvement in the 2012 fatal shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, in an off-duty incident behind Servin’s West Side home. As the sound of sirens filled the air, police were met with shouts of “16 shots” — the number of times an officer fired at Laquan McDonald in October 2014 — and demonstrators taking selfies.

Reporters were directed to download the video from a password-protected website, but the site was apparently overwhelmed with requests, and the footage could not immediately be obtained by The Associated Press. On Tuesday night activists took up the chant “16 shots” as they formed a human circle at a busy intersection in Chicago. “Right now black people are angry! After emptying a 15-round magazine plus one bullet in the chamber, Van Dyke began to reload before being called of by his partner, who approached McDonald and kicked the knife away. That’s exactly how it should be.” But that City Hall narrative comes against a backdrop of decades’ worth of police torture and wrongful conviction cases, corruption, and slapdash, ineffectual oversight practices in shootings and other excessive force actions. At a press conference before the video was released, Alvarez was asked if Van Dyke, his partner, or any of the other six officers on scene that night attempted to give medical aid to McDonald as he lay dying.

Time and again, the department has quickly cleared officers of allegations, only to have civil litigation later reveal video and other evidence that painted a much darker picture of police conduct. By 9.30pm there had been no serious escalation, but tensions rose during brief moments of pushing between police officers and protesters, several of whom were detained. The video comes after more than a year of calls for its release among police-accountability advocates and journalists in Chicago and across the country. She said cases involving police officers present “highly complex” legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than “rush to judgment.” “It is graphic.

Calling the video “graphic,” “violent” and “chilling,” she said it “no doubt will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans. … To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing.” The graphic nature of the video of McDonald’s death was never in dispute. Immediately after London was driven away about 75 people began marching west through downtown Chicago towards a highway that runs through the major city where they assembled to disrupt traffic. The city’s hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer’s conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who has been the subject of protests for months might now be fired. “You had this tape for a year, and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,” the Rev.

Such is the language of almost all police shootings—until an autopsy occurs, or an eyewitness comes forward, or video evidence contradicts an officer’s statement. In the video, as McDonald veers away from officers, Van Dyke begins firing, felling McDonald immediately, and then shoots repeatedly into his prone body. Of the eight or more officers on the scene Van Dyke is the only one to have discharged his weapon, although a colleague can be seen with his gun drawn and pointed at McDonald. In court Tuesday, prosecutors said Van Dyke was less than an hour into his overnight shift when a radio call at 9:47 p.m. reported a citizen was detaining McDonald after he had been caught breaking into trucks and stealing radios in a parking lot near 41st Street and Kildare Avenue. Another unit responded first and said over the radio that McDonald was walking away with a knife in his hand, Assistant State’s Attorney William Delaney said.

Corey Brooks, a black pastor in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, said rumors about the McDonald video and an encounter his son had with police prompted “The Talk.” “I told him that when police tell you to stop, you stop. Van Dyke and his partner got out of their marked Chevrolet Tahoe with their guns drawn, and Van Dyke took at least one step toward the teen and opened fire from about 10 feet away, Delaney said. She said Van Dyke’s actions “were not a proper use of deadly force.” “He abused his authority, and I don’t believe the use of force was necessary,” Alvarez said. If they arrest you, you wait until you get a phone call, then you call me,” Brooks told The Daily Beast in June. “It’s no sir, yes sir, no ma’am, yes ma’am.” McDonald didn’t really get that chance. Alvarez also relayed what tens of thousands of Chicagoans would watch for themselves hours later: The video showed McDonald lying on the ground while shots continued to strike his body and the pavement near him, with puffs of debris kicking up and his arms and body jerking as he was hit.

She also said: “With these charges, we are bringing a full measure of justice that this demands.” “People have a right to be angry,” he said. “People have a right to protest, people have a right to free speech. She said he opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle and kept firing even though McDonald dropped to the ground after the initial shots.

While standing outside the police headquarters Smith’s lawyer Matt Topic was notified by officials via phone that a copy was en route to his office. The fears of unrest stem from longstanding tensions between Chicago police and its minority communities, partly due to the department’s reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks. Indeed, the rapid developments on Tuesday — an officer charged, a horrific video’s release — recalled similar situations that unfolded this year. Dozens of men, mostly African-American, said they were subjected to torture from a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, `80s and early `90s, and many spent years in prison.

While the mayor and McCarthy said the investigation has been proceeding at a deliberate pace, Alvarez said such investigations are complicated regardless of how straightforward and damaging the video may be. In April 2015 the FBI announced a joint investigation with the Cook county state’s attorney’s office and the city’s Independent Police Review Authority into the shooting.

Alvarez said she had made up her mind weeks ago to file charges against Van Dyke but held off out of cooperation with federal authorities who are conducting an ongoing civil rights investigation. Police in Minneapolis took three men into custody after gunshots were fired at a “Black Lives Matter” rally, wounding five demonstrators in an attack that inflamed tensions already high over the recent police killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man. The shooting Monday night, which occurred one block from a police station that protests had centered around, shook demonstrators who nonetheless said they would not be driven away. “I’m out here to make sure those cowards know that they didn’t scare anybody,” Demetrius Pendleton, 46, who runs a local homeless shelter, said during a march on Tuesday afternoon. “We want to see justice, and we won’t stop until we get it.” In a Facebook post, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said that “white supremacists” attacked the group on Monday night “in an act of domestic terrorism,” and the group vowed not to be intimidated. Police said Tuesday they had three white men in custody: a 23-year-old arrested in Bloomington, a nearby city, as well as a 26-year-old and a 21-year-old who turned themselves in to investigators.

A fourth person, a 32-year-old Hispanic man arrested in south Minneapolis, was released after it was determined he was not at the shooting scene, police said. Habu said that protesters had been told to watch out for white supremacists wearing masks or camouflage clothing, and said the group filming the demonstrations matched those descriptions. But public records — especially court records — tell a different story of long-standing systemic problems with police oversight that city officials have been loath to confront to this day. In multiple cases since Emanuel took office, the city has been driven to react to misconduct claims only when litigation revealed the existence of troubling video. In 2006, University of Chicago research showed a relatively small group of 662 officers — or about 5 percent of the department at the time — accounts for the lion’s share of misconduct complaints.

But the extraordinarily low rate at which investigators sustained complaints — less than 1 percent — allowed bad cops to act with virtual impunity. The paper found that police officials rushed to clear cops in shootings, ignoring troubling or contradictory evidence, failing to interview witnesses, delaying blood alcohol testing when officers had been drinking before firing their weapons, and filing spurious charges against the people who had been shot.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota and Justice Department prosecutors said they will review evidence to see whether there were any federal civil rights violations. Emanuel has said he inherited a legacy of misconduct problems from the Daley years, but his own administration now has multiple episodes in which the department was slow to act on questionable shootings, including the shootings by Van Dyke, Servin and another officer, Gildardo Sierra. Drew Evans, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said authorities were still working to determine whether Clark was handcuffed when he died. The Emanuel administration responded to the verdict by trying to make a deal with the bartender to support vacating the verdict in exchange for an immediate payout of her $850,000 jury award without court appeals.

The crowd danced to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” shouted out the names those killed by police in the last year — Brown, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Walter Scott in North Charleston — and chanted, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police.” Ali, 44, was born and raised here. As she marched from the police station to City Hall, her hands gripped a homemade cardboard sign with a warning for the nation: “This could be your city next.” Lowery reported from Minneapolis and Berman from Washington.

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