More than a year after a Chicago police officer shot and killed a teenager in an incident that has already resulted in a $5 million settlement, the cop is now expected to be charged with murder.
But only because a judge ordered the release of a dash cam video that police have tried their hardest to keep under wraps.
The cop’s name is Jason Van Dyke, who has a history of complaints against him, accusing him of abusive behavior while using racial slurs.
If charged with murder, it will be the first time in history that a Chicago cop is charged with murder for an on-duty shooting, according to Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times, who broke the story earlier today.
But Van Dyke’s lawyer said that the white officer was in fear for his life that night in October 2015 when he and another officer came across Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teen who was reportedly breaking into cars with a knife in his hand.
The video is scheduled to be released before Wednesday, but an attorney who viewed the video described it to the Chicago Sun-Times as follows:
Laquan McDonald, 17, is walking west in the middle of Pulaski Road at 40th Street. He has a knife in his right hand.
He is not running.
He is not lunging.
He is walking.
Two Chicago Police officers jump out of a Tahoe with their guns drawn.
McDonald is still walking west toward the sidewalk with a full lane of traffic separating him from one of the officers.
When the officer begins shooting, the first shots spin McDonald around. The officer continues to fire from a distance of between 12 and 15 feet.
The only movement is the puffs of smoke coming from the teen’s torso and his head.
The police officer comes into view and kicks the knife out of the boy’s right hand.
Initially, Chicago police claimed McDonald “lunged” at one of the officers, prompting one of them to open fire, even though there were several officers standing around who did not shoot.
This is how the Chicago Tribune initially reported it.
Police received a call of someone trying to break into cars near 40th and Karlov in Archer Heights around 9:45 p.m. Monday, according to Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police.
A squad car arrived on the scene, and officers spotted the teen — later identified as Laquan McDonald — standing next to a car with a knife in his hand, Camden said. The teen began walking toward Pulaski Road and ignored the officers’ requests to drop the knife, Camden said.
“He’s got a 100-yard stare. He’s staring blankly,” Camden said of the teen. “[He] walked up to a car and stabbed the tire of the car and kept walking.”
Officers remained in their car and followed McDonald as he walked south on Pulaski Road. More officers arrived and police tried to box the teen in with two squad cars, Camden said. McDonald punctured one of the squad car’s front passenger-side tires and damaged the front windshield, police and Camden said.
Officers got out of their car and began approaching McDonald, again telling him to drop the knife, Camden said. The boy allegedly lunged at police, and one of the officers opened fire.
Just to be sure the truth never came out, police quickly confiscated footage from nearby surveillance cameras at a Burger King.
And the city settled with the family within six months of the incident, which is unheard of in most cases, as we saw today in the $4.9 million settlement with Kelly Thomas’ father more than four years after his killing.
In fact, McDonald’s family did not even have to file a lawsuit to receive the $5 million settlement.
Obviously, the city expected the family to go away and allow Van Dyke to continue racking up complaints against him, 18 so far, which amount to nothing.
Below is just an example of one of the complaints against him.
Van Dyke has been on paid desk duty since the shooting, so perhaps he is not as likely to receive complaints.
It appeared as if it was going to be business as usual in the Windy City with the video never seeing the light of day, but an independent journalist named Brandon Smith filed a lawsuit over the summer, which prompted judge Frank Valderrama to order the release of the video.
According to Sneed’s article, city officials are frantic about the violence that may ensue after the release of the video:
Although Alvarez would make no comment, Sneed hears she huddled with staff over the weekend preparing to weigh in on the Laquan McDonald case in advance of the release of the controversial video showing Officer Van Dyke, who is white, shooting the African-American teen on Oct. 20, 2014.
Sneed is told the potentially inflammatory video, which was ordered released by Wednesday in a ruling last week by Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama, is scheduled to be released after the criminal charges are filed — and by the judge’s deadline.
In addition to Alvarez, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had come under intense criticism for permitting Officer Van Dyke, who had been stripped of police authority, to continue to be assigned to paid desk duty … and for keeping the video from the public eye until the “appropriate” time pending a result of an investigation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is back at work after a whirlwind business trip to China, reversed course after Judge Franklin Valderrama’s stunning decision Friday and said he would not seek to have the ruling overturned.
Release of the video also prompted Alvarez to move quickly before the video was released hoping to quell any violent reaction by the public to a growing national furor over reports of unfair, premeditated treatment of black teens by white police officers.
Heavy, which has compiled an informative piece about Van Dyke, reports that in 2007, a federal jury found he used excessive force on a handcuffed suspect, resulting in a $350,000 to a man named Ed Nance, whom he pulled over for not having a front license plate.
UPDATE: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was formally charged with first degree murder this morning, turning himself in and is expected to attend a bond hearing around noon, according to the Chicago Tribune.
UPDATE II: A judge ordered Van Dyke to remain in jail without bond until Monday, according to Shadow Proof.
UPDATE III: The Chicago Tribune slams the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office for taking 400 days to make an arrest.