Chicago police officer who shot Laquan McDonald charged with murder | us news

Chicago police officer who shot Laquan McDonald charged with murder

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago Officer Charged in Death of Black Teenager.

More than a year after prosecutors say Officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald, 17, a first-degree murder charge has been filed against the officer.CHICAGO — A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black teenager 16 times last year was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said.

The footage allegedly shows the teen walking away from Van Dyke before the officer fires into his back from about 15 feet away, and keeps firing after McDonald hits the ground, according to Fox News . Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he feared violent protests upon the video’s release, and urged Chicago citizens to keep the peace once the footage is put out. “What mother would want to see the execution of her son over and over again on the nightly news or on YouTube?

He and his attorney declined comment as they arrived at the courthouse, where Van Dyke likely will appear in bond court Tuesday afternoon, once formal charges have been filed by Cook County prosecutors. Dan Herbert, a lawyer for Officer Van Dyke, said the officer, a 14-year police veteran, believed the shooting was justified because he feared for his safety. An official close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to The Associated Press that Van Dyke will likely be indicted on a murder charge today. Rarely have officers here faced such charges, and the prosecutor’s announcement came amid a national debate over race, police shootings and a growing number of encounters captured on video showing police conduct. It comes a day before dashboard camera footage of the shooting is set to be finally released by Chicago Police Department after a judge ruled that the force must make it public by tomorrow.

Chicago’s police force has its own sometimes painful history, which by some estimates includes more than $500 million in settlements and other costs over the last decade tied to police misconduct as well as reparations for black residents who said a group of officers abused and tortured them in the 1970s and 1980s. Protesters have been pushing for the footage – which allegedly shows McDonald being shot in the back by Van Dyke, who then keeps firing – to be released by authorities for 13 months. The city’s police union has said McDonald was armed with a knife, was high on PCP, ignored police orders to drop his weapon, and eventually lunged at officers in the 4100 block of South Pulaski Road. A judge finally ruled last week that the video must be released following a lawsuit from a freelance journalist, who had sued under Illinois’s open records law.

Emanuel says he hasn’t seen the video — but as he called for calm, he also said that from what he has learned about the case, “What happened here is wrong. There is no justification and it’s profoundly hideous, in my view.” The Chicago Sun-Times recently filled in some of the details about McDonald’s life, relaying the story of a young boy who was twice taken out of his mother’s care due to abuse allegations.

The newspaper reports that he was a ward of the state when he was killed, and adds that “McDonald was particularly close to his grandmother, Goldie Hunter, and was in her care until she died last year. City officials expect a sharp reaction to the video’s release, which comes as police treatment of African-American men has become hot-button issue nationally in the aftermath of high-profile incidents in New York, Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, North Charleston, S.C., and elsewhere in the last 18 months. Although the mayor initially fought the effort to make the video public, he reversed course last week, and has since criticized the officer’s actions. “This officer didn’t uphold the law. Michael Pflegar, a prominent Catholic priest and activist on the city’s South Side, applauded the murder charge and announcement that Servin would be fired. But Pflegar said the city should have taken action earlier. “We can not ask the Community to trust the Police, if the police do not Police themselves,” Pflegar said in a message he posted on social media Tuesday morning. “You can’t ask the Community to give information on a shooting, if the Community feels the Police cover up and protect their bad actions…..Hoping this pressure from the Community will begin a new day of Accountability!!!!”

Dozens of men, mostly African American, said they were subjected to torture at the hands of a Chicago police squad headed by ex-commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s. ‘You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,’ one of the ministers, Corey Brooks, said after the meeting. The judge ordered the Police Department to release the footage after the city had refused to do so for months, saying the investigations into the shooting were not complete. ‘It’ll be out there and people will see it dozens and dozens and dozens of times. Then you have to go to that same population and select a jury pool,’ said Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. Ira Acree, who described the meeting with Emanuel as ‘very tense, very contentious,’ said the mayor expressed concerns about the prospect of any demonstrations getting out of control. Another minister who attended, Jedidiah Brown, said emotions were running so high that there would be no stopping major protests once the video is released.

The two ministers said African Americans in the city are upset because the officer, though stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty and not fired. ‘They had the opportunity to be a good example and a model across the country on how to improve police and community relations and they missed it,’ Acree said. But records show that he had been the subject of numerous complaints from residents, including allegations of using excessive force and making racial slurs. The Independent Police Review Authority found that neither allegation had merit; The Chicago police are frequently involved in shootings, including 15 between July and September this year. Prosecutors accused Officer Gorman of being under the influence of alcohol when he fired shots at two men, including an off-duty suburban officer, who tried to intervene when Officer Gorman was seen driving erratically. McDonald, who was holding a folding knife, refused to drop it when officers told him to, the authorities have said, and he began walking or jogging away.

McDonald, whose autopsy showed the presence of the drug PCP in his system, pounded on the windshield of the squad car and punctured its front tire with the knife, city officials say.

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