The killing of Laquan McDonald: The dashcam video vs. police accounts
Chicago Pays Millions but Punishes Few in Killings by Police.
The investigating detective then filed a report that maintained that the officers’ statements were consistent with the video — an apparent effort to justify Van Dyke’s actions.CHICAGO (AP) — A group of retired black Chicago Police officers on Thursday called on the department to halt promotions and hiring until federal authorities complete an investigation launched after a video of the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald was released. Although Van Dyke has been indicted for first-degree murder, no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the other officers or the detective.
Despite the national furor provoked by the McDonald case and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s earnest declarations that he will enact wholesale changes in law enforcement, neither the mayor nor the interim police superintendent nor Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has publicly expressed outrage that these cops are still on the beat. The department has increased the number of African Americans ever since it was forced to do so by a series of federal lawsuits beginning in the 1970s. Let’s review the misstatements included in the police reports released earlier this month that detail what officers told Detective David March about the fatal encounter between Van Dyke and McDonald: Officer Joseph Walsh said that he “backed up, attempting to maintain a safe distance between himself and McDonald,” during a nighttime encounter in the middle of South Pulaski Road. He added that McDonald “swung the knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner” and that McDonald was “attempting to kill them when the shots were fired.” The now widely viewed dash-cam video incontrovertibly shows that Walsh, like Van Dyke, was advancing on McDonald, and that McDonald, who had a knife in the hand farthest from the officers, was walking at an angle away from them at the moment he was shot. While 22.6 percent of the force is African American, according to department statistics, the Census Bureau statistics show that blacks make up 32.9 percent of the Chicago population.
Officer Janet Mondragon said she heard officers “repeatedly ordering McDonald to drop the knife” as he “got closer and closer to the officers, continuing to wave the knife.” The video clearly shows that at no point was McDonald getting “closer and closer” to the officers. Among the officers, part of a special unit that some have accused of aggressive stops and illegal searches and that has since been disbanded, there have been 17 complaints over the years, but none led to discipline. Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about that?” Call this McDonald II, an auxiliary scandal in which yet another incident of brazen police misconduct gets caught up in cross jurisdictional investigations and is then exacerbated by a lack of urgency and outrage from leaders who ought to have been pounding the table and demanding answers a year ago.
McDonald’s great-uncle, said last week at his church on the West Side. “Laquan McDonald represents thousands of Laquan McDonalds — same black skin, same poverty, same social and economic injustice that is put upon them, but with different names and different ages.” In Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, officers shot and killed 70 people, most of them black, in a five-year span ending in 2014. That was the most among the nation’s 10 largest cities during the same period, according to the Better Government Association, a nonprofit watchdog organization.
The Chicago Police Department has also been known for issuing little or no punishment to its own, even after a 2007 overhaul of its discipline system that was portrayed as creating a tough, autonomous authority. Of more than 400 police shootings since the Independent Police Review Authority was created in 2007, the agency has found claims of wrongdoing against officers valid in only two cases. In defending the department, a police union official said that the police seemed to have become “the new doormat” for a city that has witnessed surges of bloodshed as gangs have splintered and guns proliferated. Dean Angelo Sr., president of the union representing Chicago’s rank-and-file officers, said that officers took thousands of guns off Chicago’s streets each year.
Angelo said. “But nobody looks at it that way.” He added: “The same politicians that are throwing us under the bus were banging our door down to get our endorsement when they were running for office.” Mr. McDonald’s death and appointed a task force to re-examine the force, the city’s oversight of officers and its practice of keeping evidence secret during investigations. “We need a painful but honest reckoning of what went wrong, not just in this one instance but over decades,” Mr. Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who has studied the police here and fought to make discipline records public, said he sensed a “familiar playbook.” “Heads will roll and we’ll form a blue-ribbon commission to study the problem,” Mr.
Police officers here have been allowed to abuse the most vulnerable Chicago residents with near impunity.” Cedrick Chatman was behind the wheel of Dodge Charger that had been reported carjacked when two plainclothes officers pulled up beside him one afternoon at a South Side intersection. Davis, who has filed a wrongful-termination suit, said that his superiors had tried to push him to soften his findings in six cases, including the Chatman shooting, and that the authority had failed to live up to the very reason it was created: independence. “It goes wrong because there’s a culture there where the investigators and supervisors for the most part feel that police officers always tell the truth and that quite often the complainants embellish or do not tell the truth,” Mr.
While the city’s population is split almost evenly among black, white and Hispanic residents, more than half of the officers are white, about 22 percent are black and 22 percent Hispanic, police officials said. For years, claims of police brutality were handled by the Office of Professional Standards, an internal unit that was widely criticized for its lack of independence. By 2007, the department was engulfed in scandal over a surveillance video that showed a drunken officer, Anthony Abbate, beating a female bartender, and allegations that fellow officers covered up for him.
Chatman, they had reason to believe he might be armed and might have committed a felony because of a radio call saying that the vehicle had been carjacked. Cross’s house when a police cruiser slowed after the officers saw him “making movements with his hands and body” that suggested he had a gun, a police report said.
The officers — Mohammed Ali, Macario Chavez and Matilde Ocampo — were members of the Mobile Strike Force Unit, assigned with making gun and drug arrests in high-crime areas, including Mr. Cross said her son had returned home from a Job Corps program in southern Illinois, where he had earned a certificate for bricklaying, because he had learned his girlfriend was pregnant with a boy. “He was real excited about that,” said Ms. When he moved but failed to show his hands, Officer Chavez fired three more times with his assault rifle — emptying his clip with shots 26, 27 and 28, the officer said. Cross’s path was a fully loaded six-shot Smith & Wesson revolver that had not been fired and was so full of dirt that an Illinois State Police lab deemed it inoperable.
Cross “posed a threat.” Eighteen months after the authority completed its investigation, the city approved a $2 million payment to the family this year, one of a number of cases in which the city has settled claims even when officers have been cleared. In one such case, the family of Joshua Madison, 21, an unarmed African-American man killed by a Chicago police officer in 2010, received a $1 million settlement in June. City officials also paid Laquan McDonald’s family $5 million months before the officer who shot him was charged with murder and before the rest of Chicago saw the video.
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