Teen killed by Chicago officer had broken, troubled family

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago Protesters Plan Black Friday March Over Laquan McDonald Death.

A black teenager shot 16 times by a white Chicago police officer 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. Chicago police officers line up outside the District 1 central headquarters at 17th and State streets Tuesday during a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed in October 2014 in Chicago.Dashcam footage of his horrific shooting was released to the public this week hours after police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with his murder, sparking a wave of protests in the streets of Chicago. 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. News outlets around the world have picked up the story with headlines screaming “Police officer shot black teen 16 times”, “Protests erupt after video of white cop killing”, “Dashcam video shows black teen shot 16 times”.

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 stealing cars on October 20, 2014 — the night a squad-car video captured Van Dyke shooting him. Sabina Catholic Church and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis—called for demonstrators to shut down the city’s Magnificent Mile retail area on Friday. 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. The video released Tuesday shows McDonald jogging down an empty lane on a four-lane street and then veering away from Van Dyke and another officer who emerge from a police SUV drawing their guns. 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.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Van Dyke emptied his weapon before his partner stepped forward and kicked the knife away from McDonald. His 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.

John Curran, a vice president at the Magnificent Mile Association, which represents 780 businesses, said his group is communicating with members about security and expects stores to be open as usual for one of the retail industry’s most important shopping days. “We’re hoping for a peaceful demonstration by the parties that are planning to demonstrate and respect their freedom to assemble and do that,” Mr. A freelance journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the video after learning of the shooting, but the Chicago Police Department refused to release it, saying it could hurt investigations. Marshall Hatch, co-chairman of the Leaders Network of Chicago, a nonprofit activist group. “From this tragedy and crisis, we need fundamental police reform, as well as an urban policy that offers live options for our young people.” At a joint news conference Tuesday evening, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discouraged the kind of unrest seen in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. 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.

Emanuel and McCarthy described the shooting of McDonald as an unusual and tragic incident, and the mayor noted that McDonald’s family had asked people not to resort to violence. Gattuso said Laquan 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. Video footage of police shootings—from dashboard or body cameras to recordings made by citizens on mobile phones—has spurred more and faster prosecutions of police this year, experts say. Attorney’s Office since mid-November on an active, joint criminal investigation and that police-involved shootings are “highly complex” cases that take longer than typical shootings to investigate. In April, a white South Carolina police officer, Michael Slager, was arrested and charged with murder within days after a citizen video emerged that showed him shooting an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, who was running away from him at the time.

Maki Haberfeld, chairwoman of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the shooting didn’t appear to be justified because the teen wasn’t approaching the officer.

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