Chicago cop charged in Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting returns to court Monday

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago police officer who fatally shot teen due in court.

A Chicago police officer facing a first-degree murder charge for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald is scheduled to return to Cook County court Monday to learn if bail will be set for his possible release or if he will be ordered to remain in custody. BOSTON (CBS) – Any union in America worth its title has a consistent message to its members’ employers – we expect you to treat us fairly, to respect the rules and the law, and to think of more than just yourselves when making important decisions; to be decent, ethical and moral. In an article on the website headlined “How the media blew reporting the Chicago cop’s shooting of a teen,” we learn that reporters on the scene of the alleged murder of Laquan McDonald last year were diverted from the apparent truth of what happened by a former spokesman for the Chicago Police Department who has continued to show up at crime scenes and spin the story to the press in his new role – as spokesman for the Chicago police union. Laquan McDonald, whose name demonstrators have shouted for two days and will shout again during a planned rally to disrupt the city’s famed Magnificent Mile shopping corridor Friday, lived a troubled, disadvantaged life and had at least one previous brush with the law.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ records show that was a ward of the state when he died, having spent years being shuttled between different relatives’ homes and foster care from the time he was 3 years old. Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ruled he would decide on bail at a hearing at noon Monday after viewing the 2014 police dash-cam video of the white officer shooting the African-American teen 16 times seconds after the officer’s arrival. School officials and the McDonald family lawyer say there were signs Laquan was trying to get his life in order, though prosecutors say he had drugs in his system and was burglarizing cars on Oct. 20, 2014 — the night a squad-car video captured officer Jason Van Dyke shooting him. “It takes a while to get a life back on track,” said Thomas Gattuso, the principal at the alternative high school that McDonald was attending. “With Laquan, we unfortunately never got to finish his story.” Protesters and civil rights activists are demanding more investigations and police reform after Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder this week. This horrific killing, captured on a patrol car’s dash-cam video, was followed by more than a year-long effort to suppress the evidence from public view.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday she’d hoped to make a joint announcement with federal authorities about charges against Van Dyke, but decided to charge him earlier in the hopes of calming what she knew would be an angry response to the video. Jesse Jackson and others have called for a “massive” march on Black Friday along Michigan Avenue, a swank downtown boulevard that’s normally packed with post-Thanksgiving shoppers. McDonald’s family has appealed for calm, and his mother at least initially opposed the public release of the graphic dashcam video showing his death, attorney Michael Robbins said. Because the dashcam footage is so graphic, we instinctively understand why police and city officials worked tirelessly to prevent the video from ever being seen by the public, but it nonetheless is outrageous that it took so long and a judge’s order for it to be released last week.

She said she “moved up” her decision to charge Van Dyke after a Cook County judge ruled the previous week that the video should be released to the public. Van Dyke then fired 16 rounds at McDonald in about 14 seconds and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire, prosecutors said at bond court. Chicago police said that four people were arrested during the second night of largely peaceful demonstrations following the release of a video showing last year’s shooting of McDonald by a police officer. McDonald’s mother had been making efforts to regain custody of her son before he was killed and had been granted permission to take a younger sister back into her home, Robbins said. The Chicago Tribune reports that parents have received a letter from Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson assuring them the video won’t be shown in schools.

Two gorgeous barmaids provided an even more gorgeous sandwich while I was enveloped among very friendly if mildly intoxicated strangers who were interested in who I was and why I was there. Community frustration over the actions of Chicago police has been building for years, and last week it manifested itself in the form of protests and marches.

At the recommendation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s City Council approved a $5 million settlement to the victim’s family even before a lawsuit was filed. Like any defendant, Officer Van Dyke should be presumed innocent, but the good people of Chicago can take solace in the fact that his conduct finally will be subject to scrutiny in a court of law. She called the video “graphic,” “violent” and “chilling” and said it “no doubt will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.” Alvarez said several civilians witnessed the shooting. It should give pause to those who have suggested a “Ferguson effect” is making officers more reticent to confront suspicious people because of public scrutiny — and their apprehension could be producing a crime surge.

From around age six to 16, he lived with his great-grandmother and then stayed in the same house with an uncle after his great-grandmother died in 2014. If not for the video — and the mighty efforts of those who pushed to release it — his killing would be just another statistic in the category of “justified use of force.”

Gattuso said McDonald took the initiative to attend Sullivan House High School, a school for at-risk students and high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21. Alvarez said 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. Witnesses who were stopped in traffic on Pulaski told authorities that McDonald seemed to be “looking for a way to get away from the police,” Alvarez said.

At the time of the shooting, the police union maintained that the officer fired in fear for his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife. According to police and court records, Van Dyke joined the department in 2001 and spent more than four years with the Targeted Response Unit — since disbanded by police Superintendent Garry McCarthy — that aggressively went into neighborhoods experiencing spikes in violent crime. As he arrived, Van Dyke kept his hands in his jeans pockets, looked straight ahead and did not answer questions from reporters as he walked briskly into the Leighton Criminal Court Building with his attorney. Although the page did not mention her husband by name, it described him as a 15-year veteran officer “fighting for his freedom and justice.” “He is a highly decorated and respected officer,” Tiffany Van Dyke wrote. “He was in a shooting that has been covered extensively by the media and we ask for your patience for all the facts to come out in the trial.

As the mayor urged prosecutors to conclude their investigation Monday, he met with community leaders and aldermen to defend his handling of the controversy amid criticism that City Hall has not done enough to address police misconduct. Why would an officer, 37, with 13 years on the force, in front of witnesses, empty his pistol into a 17-year-old who was walking away, and whose only weapon turned out to be a 3-inch pocket knife found closed? The city lost its court fight last week to keep the video under wraps when the judge ruled in favor of freelance journalist Brandon Smith, who sued under the state’s open records law.

Thwarting abuse by police may come down to two fundamental issues: Who do we get to do this work, and what is the job’s accumulated effect on their psyche? The initial challenge is to hire the best from among those willing to put on a gun and spend every workday looking for trouble in exchange for pay easily matched in safer pursuits. McDonald’s autopsy found he was shot once on each side of his chest and suffered single bullet wounds in the scalp and neck, two in his back, seven in his arms, one in his right hand and two in his right leg. Applicants must accept rotating shifts, including weekends and holidays, in whatever weather, doing a job that marks them as physical and emotional prey in an unending tour of gore, filth, savagery and insanity.

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