Laquan McDonald: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
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Laquan McDonald: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Laquan McDonald (Family photo)

Laquan McDonald (Family photo)

The city of Chicago has settled a $5 million lawsuit with the family of a black teenager fatally shot by police in October 2014. The officer involved in the shooting has not been named or charged, but has been suspended pending an investigation.

Laquan McDonald, 17, was killed while holding a knife. He was suspected of having committed a robbery prior to the shooting, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The settlement with McDonald’s family is the result of police cruiser dash cam footage that shows the shooting, the Tribune reported. The video will not be released by the family as part of the settlement, which was approved by the Chicago City Council on April 15.

The city had been fighting the release of the video, but on November 19, a Cook County judge ruled the video must be made public by November 25. The city will not appeal the ruling, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Video of the shooting will be released Tuesday. You can watch the video here.

The officer in the shooting has been identified as 37-year-old Jason Van Dyke, who has been a Chicago police officer since 2001. A federal jury in a civil case found Van Dyke committed excessive force while handcuffing a suspect in 2007. Read more about that case here.

Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. He Was Shot 16 Times by 1 Officer Who Was 12-15 Feet Away

The family’s settlement with the city prohibits them from releasing the dash cam video to the public, but the family’s attorney, Jeffrey Neslund, has seen the video. He described it to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Neslund told columnist Mary Mitchell that the video shows McDonald walking west in the middle of Pulaski Street with a knife in his right hand. Two officers jump out of a SUV with their guns drawn. McDonald can be seen continuing to walk west, with a lane of traffic separating him from the officers. One of the officers begins shooting from about 12
to 15 feet away from McDonald. The teen is spun around by the first shots and the officer continues firing. McDonald falls to the ground and an officer kicks the knife out of his hand.

According to the Tribune, officers began to follow McDonald after he was allegedly trying to break into vehicles at a trucking yard. The officers followed him for nearly a half-mile, through a Burger King parking lot and onto a busy street. The officers were waiting for backup units with Tasers and tried to corral McDonald to keep him away from passers-by, the Tribune reported.

The caller reporting the attempted break-ins at the trucking yard had told police McDonald was armed with a knife and had threatened him with it. He also punctured a tire of a police vehicle that was following him and struck the vehicle’s windshield.

The SUV carrying the police officer who fired the fatal shots arrived as the officers were trying to surround McDonald.

The family says the video shows McDonald walking away from the officers. According to the Tribune, one of the reasons the city settled the lawsuit was because the family’s attorney would have questioned why only one officer of the five at the scene opened fire.

The officer has claimed he feared for his life, and the police union claimed McDonald lunged at the officer with a knife, though that is not seen on video.

The autopsy showed that McDonald was hit 16 times, including in the chest, neck, back, arms and leg. It also showed that McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of the shooting, but a city alderman said that shouldn’t have an impact on the case. According to the Sun-Times, Carrie Austin said:

How would they [police] have known that? They would not have known that. You’re gonna look at them and know what kind of substance they have in them? I could have taken a Bayer aspirin. How would you know it? Even though it’s an illegal substance. So what? That particular [drug] could have gotten him to a level of cohesiveness or coherentness. Some people are extremely aggressive. Some could be less aggressive or keep them at a medium.

The full autopsy was released via a Freedom of Information Act request. Read it below:


2. Police Detectives Have Been Accused of Deleting Security Footage From Near the Shooting Scene

(Getty)

(Getty)

A district manage for a Burger King restaurant located less than 100 yards from where McDonald was shot told NBC Chicago that detectives deleted 86 minutes of security camera footage after the shooting. The missing footage is of the outside of the restaurant from 9:13 to 10:30 p.m. McDonald was shot at about 9:50 p.m.

Jay Darshane, the Burger King manager, said four or five police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video not long after the shooting. They were given the password to the equipment and after three hours, they left. An investigator from the Independent Police Review Authority came to view the footage the next day and found that 86 minutes were missing.

The IPRA, the unit investigating the shooting, told NBC, “We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video.”

But the manager believes it was deleted, saying, “We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files. I mean we were just trying to help the police officers.”

An attorney who represents another Chicago police shooting victim’s family said the IPRA is not credible.

“I don’t regard them as independent and I don’t regard them as investigators,” Candace Gorman, who represents the family of Divonte Young, told NBC. “Their policy is to exonerate any officer that’s involved in a shooting and the officers all know it. They have complete impunity, and they know they will never be called on the carpet by the city of Chicago or the so-called independent investigative unit.”

In the Young case, the officer said he feared for his life because he believed Young, a 20-year-old Chicago man, was armed. But police didn’t find a weapon. The IPRA found the 2012 shooting to be justified, saying in its report, “”No weapon was found on or near the Subject so it was surmised that a civilian had removed the gun.”

The IPRA told NBC Gorman “could not be more wrong,” and their investigations are done “fairly, objectively and thoroughly,” based on evidence. The city is currently conducting an internal audit of the IRPA to determine “the accuracy and completeness of IPRA’s reporting” on officer-involved shootings.

The McDonald shooting was captured on dashcam video that has not been made public, and the Burger King video would not have shown the shooting itself. But the attorneys for McDonald’s family believe it could have shown what led up to the shooting.

“Our first time down at the Burger King restaurant when we started talking to employees, watching the Burger King video, when we realized video had been deleted, or is missing, absolutely we knew something was up,” said Jeff Neslund, an attorney for McDonald’s family.


3. Van Dyke Is the First Chicago Police Officer to be Charged With First-Degree Murder in an On-Duty Shooting

(Getty)

(Getty)

Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in an on-duty shooting. A federal civil rights investigation is still ongoing.

You can read the charges against Van Dyke below:

Van Dyke was the only officer among five at the scene to fire at McDonald. He opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle, while the other officers tried to surround McDonald, while waiting for a Taser.

An attorney for Officer Van Dyke says his client followed police procedure and didn’t commit any wrongdoing, saying he felt he was in fear for his life. He has also said he is concerned the video could cause someone to do harm to Van Dyke, because they will not understand the context of what it shows.

“The video is graphic, disturbing and difficult to watch, as any video of a man being shot to death would be,” Herbert told the Tribune. “It’s impossible from viewing the video to determine exactly what my client was experiencing at the time in which he fired the shots. … It’s not showing from his eyes, which is an important distinction.”

The police union also says Van Dyke was in fear for his life.

“The officers are responding to someone with a knife in a crazed condition who stabs out tires on a vehicle, on a squad car,” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden told the Chicago Tribune. “You obviously aren’t going to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. He is a very serious threat to the officers, and he leaves them no choice at that point but to defend themselves.”

Read more about Van Dyke at the link below:


4. McDonald Had a Troubled Past, but His Family Said He Was Trying to Turn His Life Around

According to the Tribune, the 17-year-old McDonald was a ward of the state and in temporary custody of his uncle at the time of his death. But his mother was petitioning to regain custody of McDonald. His mother had been allowed supervised visits in anticipation of granting her custody.

The Tribune reported that McDonald had an “extensive juvenile record,” but had a job he found through a church. He had enrolled at the Sullivan House High School, an alternative school for troubled youth, a month before he died. The city attorney said McDonald’s mentor would have testified he was getting good grades.


5. There Are Fears That the Video Would Incite Unrest in Chicago

(Getty)

(Getty)

McDonald’s mother said she does not want the video released to the public, according to the Sun-Times. The city’s attorney had said the video will be released at the appropriate time, but not while the investigation is ongoing.

City aldermen have expressed different opinions on the release of the video, including fears that it could incite violent protests in Chicago.

While demanding for the release of the video, Alderman Howard Brookins said the video would “really inflame the passions of the community-at-large,” according to the Sun-Times, but that would be a price the city has to pay in order to move forward.

“I’m not worried about rioting or demonstrations. I need this to stop. If you don’t show the video and this continues to happen, then we’re still headed down that path. . . . It can help us also going forward to come up with policies and practices that will end this once and for all,” Brookins said, according to the Sun-Times. He the video is necessary because police officials “sanitize” the events:

You could just replay old video because it’s always the same thing. You could look at every police report because it always reads the same. Then, you look at the actual video, which dispels what has been said in official written documents and you know that police officers in those limited situations have not been forthright with the community.

According to the Sun-Times, Alderman Carrie Austin said the video would “incite somebody … to do something violent – to rise up in ways that aren’t necessary.” She said:

Some would say that they would rather see it. I think that would be insensitive. Why would you want to even see something like that take place? For you to retaliate is not gonna correct the situation. It has happened. It is done. That individual will receive their punishment. So I don’t think we should go on and on with that . . . It would just distraught somebody to do that. Then, we would lose confidence [of] our citizenry. And I don’t want that to happen. We worked hard to gain their confidence back.

Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton told the aldermen:

I am confident this video will be released. When could depend on whether charges are brought and . . . what the prosecutor or prosecutors have to say about it. . . . If prosecutors say, `We want you to hold off on that because we don’t want to interfere with the prosecution,’ then that would be something we would certainly listen seriously to. But the bottom line is at that appropriate time, this videotape will be released.

Although the settlement with the family bars them from releasing the video, Patton said the $5 million was “not hush money.”

The family’s attorney, Jeffrey Neslund, told the Sun-Times he “agonized” over whether to use the video as a bargaining chip in the negotiations or release it and let it go viral.

“I met with (Laquan’s mother) and Laquan’s uncle, and he was really concerned. He was afraid he would see their neighborhood burned,” Neslund said.

32 Comments

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32 Comments

Matt

People should be aware that not complying with an officer while carrying a deadly weapon is grounds for the officer to use deadly force in every state. Those who flaunt this very clear and consistent police directive may find themselves shot to death. The only crimes the officers committed were tampering with evidence, obstruction, etc. Any outrage at the shooting itself is just ignorance of procedure.

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Char Char Binks

He wuz turnin’ hiz life aroun’. Day awl beez turnin’ day livez aroun’.

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JJ

Question: Why isn’t the Department of Justice investigating the city officials, police officers and judges BEFORE black people are targeted by them for extortion, rape and murder?

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Anonymous

It seems apparent that the police cruiser that arrived on scene, videoing the encounter, deliberately steered to the right with the intent to not get the officers in the frame. Has anyone else noticed this? And since when do two police officers exit the car, draw their weapons, then one says “you go ahead and take this one. I’ll sit back and watch”? Normally both officers will open fire. Has anyone checked the ballistics for multiple shooters?

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anon

AHH, yes! The old find-a-picture-of-the-thug-in-a-cap-and-gown-to-portray-him-as-a-good-kid routine. This stunt goes back to the Bernie Goetz trial.

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Antonio Washington

Has there ever been one of these cases where the parents didn’t say “he was trying to turn his life around” or something similar? What this officer did if wrong. However, it’s the parents that put this kid in this situation. Their actions led this kid to this confrontation with this bad cop. The parents actions doomed this kid. Had it not been this cop, it would have been something else. So many black youth have little chance because of the choices made by thier parents.

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Bruce Berry

Just another excuse to exercise their blackitude! It was definite overkill. The cop had no need to shoot this man. I can’t believe with all the cops standing around they couldn’t have just took him down by physical force. Between the Nazi cops and the blackitude it is going to happen again and again.

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ReeginaG

Hello, have any of you read about the child’s life. He has been in and out of foster care and has been abused by moms boyfriend when he was a toddler and elementary age child. His mother is crap and yes she apparently got millions but not from a law suit. City offered the money before a suit was filed. The kid had an abusive childhood so he wasn’t a perfect kid and he was dealing with typical results that a lot of abused kids deal with –yes, drugs and sometimes violence. His juvenile record is detailing his foster care /abuse history –he doesn’t have a criminal history. Anyway, police are not supposed to execute. All those who are in favor of police executions –be aware of giving them this power, eventually it will spread to the suburbs and then you ll have a different opinion.

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Anonymous

Toni who made you judge, jury and DA you don’t know if that kid was on drugs they need too test the Thug Cops that thug that killed this kid had to have some type of drugs in his system to shoot someone 16 times in 15 seconds and then kick the kid too see if he was dead Really,!!!! If that was your child how would you feel? You will never know b/c if that was your son/dau you would get a phone call for you to pick up your little angel. So stop trying to decide what this child faith was going too be let this family have some peace and let Laquan McDonald RIP……

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Anonymous

Kick the kid to see if he was dead? U mean kick the knife away.. making shit up to prep the mob for your looting spree?

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Anonymous

This situation with this young man is very disturbing to say the least, this kid was not a threat to any of the KKK in Blue. Some ppl on this thread should think before they start talking about what has taken place in Chicago with the death of this kid. I dare anyone too rejoice on this child’s death, if a KKK officer is always in fear of his life when they have to confront a black person they need too find other employment. This was murder no debate no question this was over kill.

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Fyouto

When a black teen is shot by the police in Chicago, grandma or mama always pull out the graduation picture in the cap and gown. Mama usually tells the media that her son wanted to be a doctor to help people or he wanted to be a lawyer to help the poor. They never show the offenders three page rap sheet.
In MacDonalds case, mama and the play uncle are instant millionaires. It’s like winning the Illinois lottery. This kid is a ward of the state and mama is rewarded millions for being a bad parent. The Chicago Police did this family a favor. I especially like the part where she was in the process of regaining custody of her troubled son!
There is one troubling factor in this case. Overkill. Why shoot this asshole sixteen times? Two in the head or chest would have done the job. If this cop is ever indicted and he goes to trial, a jury is going to fuck this cop. He emptied his gun in this nut. You don’t shoot someone sixteen times when your dashcam is rolling and five other cops are just standing there, not firing a shot.
The independent civilian police review board is made up of liberals. I don’t believe they would cover up anything about this shooting. Does this mean no more free or half price food at Burger King? Leave it to one cop to fuck it up for the rest of them.

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Fyouto

Deborah, I’ve been hoping someone like you would comment on my rant. The truth about me is as follows. I’n not a member of the Ayran Brotherhood or the KKK. I’m not even a racist. What I am is a white former Chicago Police Officer who spent twenty three years in an all black district. That police district aka the ghetto was infested with gangs, drugs, filthy urine stenched highrises were the elevators never worked. I’ve climbed thirty flights of stairs to find a mother covered in blood after her seventeen year old gangbanging son just about beat her to death after she confronted him about the money he had stolen from her. I had a young mother die at my feet and I couldn’t do anything to save her. I saved three black elderly lives.I received eighteen letters of thanks from black people for going above and beyond the call of duty. One of the letter was from a grandmother thanking me for not killing her nineteen year old grandson whom she raised since he was six months old. He tried to shoot me and missed. Instead I was able to talk him into putting the gun down. I’ve seen more black on black homicides than you’ll ever hear about in your lifetime. I can write a book about all of the black on black crime I’ve seen. I’ve broken both of my hands and four of my ribs fighting with punks high on crack who refused to go to jail. I was stuck with a recently used hypo needle by a heroin user.l never beat anyone even though a beaten was warranted! I treated people like I wanted to be treated.I probably have more black friends than you do.
I’ve been a victim directly and indirectly of black on white crime.
When I left for the Army, my neighborhood was all white. We never locked our doors. When I returned two years later, I didn’t recognize the neighborhood I left. Blacks moved in and the neighborhood went to hell within five years. Homes forclosed, homes were boarded up.My uncle who lived upstairs from us was walking home with his friend from my brothers pizzeria which was only two blocks from our house. They were jumped and beaten and robbed by the black 17yr old punk who lived across the street from us. The beating caused a stroke in my uncle and he died three weeks later. He was 70yrs old. His friend who was also 70yrs old refused to press charges because he feared the punk would retaliate against him or his elderly sister.
A few months later,five friends of mine and myself were working in a friends garage on a car when two black men walked in the garage. Both displayed handguns and robbed all of us of our wallets. They fled with over twelve hundred dollars. They were never caught. By the way, my uncle had seventy five cents in his pocket and his friend had forty five cents in hís pocket
While my mother and older brother we sleeping at two in the morning my youngest brother got up to use the bathroom.When he turned the light on he sees the bathroom window going up and a 18-20yr.old black male attempting to climb through it. My brother yelled and ran into the kitchen for a knife and the person fled. When my mother let her dog out the next morning she found a shotgun round on the sidewalk under the bathroom window. The previous day,I saw the movie “In Cold Blood”. Go see it Deborah,or read the book! It’s a true story!
So Deborah, I should be a racist but I’m just a pissed off white guy who sees nobody protesting black on black crime in Chicago. Instead, blacks choose to chant fuck the police in downtown Chicago and making idiots out of themselves by making unwarranted demands!

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thinkinguru

Lol, Fyouto you pretty much summed it up. This very week that this video is being released, two black men raped and killed a white Indiana pastor’s wife, and a black man attempted to execute a white, New Orleans medical student, execution style, when the med student attempted to intervene the black man’s kidnapping of an intoxicated white women. The cop does seem like an asshole but he was basically trying to solve a problem. If black lives matter, blacks sure don’t act like it. As long as Obama is going to mail out a check every time a black woman pops out a baby, black women are going to keep popping em out. Maybe whites deserve the problems they created from the “original sin” of slavery. Of course whites also commit crimes. However, I wish that people wouldn’t act like all those statistics we read about black crime simply don’t exist.

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Anonymous

Thinkinguru you sound like a racist. How many blacks do you actually have relationships with? Or are the only blacks you know of are the ones that make negative headlines? If you want to look at statistics consider people like Jeffery Dahmer, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Steven Stayner…and the list goes on and on. They hurt many innocent people but you probably would be very comfortable being in the company of people such as these because you can’t seem to see anything other than skin tone. And why do you generalize? Do you know what race most sociopaths, mass murderers and sociopaths are? I think you are color-blind but in a very wicked way. I’m sorry you weren’t exposed to different cultures as a child. It would have helped you not focus on race so much. Good and bad people come in all types of packages. It’s not the color of the skin that defines whether someone will do good or bad. It’s the condition of the heart.

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Anon, too

So what condition was Laquan’s heart, considering that he was holding a knife while walking in public?

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Char Char Binks

Omar Thornton, John Allen Muhammad, Lee Boyd Malvo, Carll Watts, Chris Harper Mercer, Lee Boyd Malvo — you people take the cake!

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Toni A.

It doesn’t LOOK as though Laquan was turning his life around, but it doesn’t appear that he did anything to warrant being shot multiple times, either.

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VETCOPOPINION

YES, HE DID WARRANT BEING SHOT, HIS ACTIONS OF COMMITTING A FELONY WHILE ARMED WITH A KNIFE IS GROUNDS FOR DEADLY FORCE BY EVERY POLICE AGENCY IN THIS COUNTRY. OFFICER’S WERE PUTTING THERE LIVES ON THE LINE WITH THIS CRAZED 17 YEAR OLD AND HOLDING A DEADLY WEAPON, REFUSING TO DROP THE KNIFE AS BEING TOLD BY THE POLICE MULTIPLE TIMES. POLICE DON’T HAVE TO GIVE A WARNING AT ALL IN THIS SITUATION TO OPEN FIRE, BUT THEY DID MULTIPLE TIMES. THE ERROR ISN’T THAT HE WAS SHOT, WHICH WAS A JUSTIFIED SHOOTING IN ANY CITY IN AMERICA, AS A 20 YEAR VETERAN POLICE OFFICER, I TOO AM DISGUSTED THAT THIS OFFICER FAILED TO STOP FIRING UPON MCDONALD GOING TO THE GROUND AFTER FIRST TWO SHOTS?? ALL OFFICER’S ARE TRAINED TO SHOOT TO KILL, BUT IF THE THREAT IS STOPPED, YOU STOP SHOOTING BECAUSE THEN IT’S EXCESSIVE FORCE AND THAT’S WHAT TOOK PLACE HERE. DEADLY FORCE WAS WARRANTED BUT THE AMOUNT OF SHOTS TO THIS BOY WAS WRONG, PERIOD AND THE OFFICER SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH EXCESSIVE FORCE. IT’S NOT MURDER (PRE-PLANNED), BUT EXCESSIVE POLICE USE OF FORCE, WHICH CARRIES A LARGE SENTENCE AS WELL. THE MONEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ISSUED TO THE WARD OF THE STATE WHOM HAD CUSTODY OF THE TEEN, NOT THE DEADBEAT PARENT. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!

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Anonymous

People would probably listen to you if you did not come off as being foul- mouthed and ignorant.

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Formercpd

I agree with your comment. At first I thought MacDonalds mother was rewarded five million for being a bad mother. Now the media reports that the five million actually went to his sister. How she fits into into this equation baffles me. All I know is that everyone that touched this kids life failed miserably.

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Devastator

I agree… I’m black with 32 years of Law Enforcement experience… IAW the Use of Force Model/Force Continuum, it appears he was justified to use Deadly Force, but 16 shots???? His initial use of force justified, but the continuance was uncivil and as you stated “excessive force”…

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