Zion-Benton Times - Community News - Your Life

Laquan McDonald Story

 

October 12, 2018



The shooting of Laquan McDonald took place on October 20, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. McDonald was fatally shot by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke from approximately ten feet away. McDonald had been behaving erratically while walking down the street, and was holding a folding knife with a three-inch blade.

Initially, internal police reports described the incident similarly and ruled the shooting justified. However, when a police dash cam video of the shooting was released thirteen months later, on November 24, 2015, it showed McDonald walking away from the police when he was shot. That same day Officer Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and initially held without bail at the Cook County Jail. He was released on bail on November 30.

Protests following the murder had denounced McDonald's death and demanded changes in police and judicial procedure, and for the dismissal or resignation of city and county officials. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her bid for reelection in 2016, but Rahm Emanuel won a second term in 2015 as Mayor of Chicago. But recently Emanuel has announced that he would not seek reelection, for personal and profesional reasons.

At the request of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the United States Department of Justice initiated a civil rights investigation into McDonald's death and the activities of the Chicago Police Department. It released its report in January 2017, describing the police as having a culture of "excessive violence," especially against minority suspects, and of having poor training and supervision.

On June 27, 2017, three Chicago police officers were indicted for charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct for allegedly attempting to cover up the events surrounding the shooting. However, it was announced on November 14, 2017 that the grand jury overseeing the case had completed its investigation and that no more officers will be indicted.

Laquan, born September 25, 1997, was from the 37th Ward of Chicago. According to NBC Chicago news, McDonald earned $1100 working after school in the Youth Advocate Program in 2014. His final report card showed that he had earned an "A" in personal finance and music and a "B" in world studies and reading and a "C" in Biology and Algebra. One of McDonald's teachers described him as "very respectful and reserved." The teacher added that McDonald "was not aggressive."

Jason Van Dyke was born in Hinsdale, Illinois and graduated from Hinsdale South High School in 1996. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from St. Xavier University in Chicago. A 14-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department with a salary of $78,012, Van Dyke is married and has two children.

At least 20 citizen complaints have been filed against Officer Van Dyke since 2001, but none resulted in disciplinary action. Ten of the complaints allege he used excessive force, and two involve the use of a firearm. A jury awarded a Chicago man $350,000 after determining Van Dyke employed excessive force during a traffic stop. One complaint involved verbal abuse with use of a racial slur. Van Dyke may have also been involved in the cover-up of a separate shooting in 2005.

Video of the shooting shows that Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke when the first shot was fired. The first shot hit McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground. As McDonald lay on the ground, still holding the knife, Van Dyke fired more shots into him. In total, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in 14–15 seconds. Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and began shooting approximately six seconds after exiting his car.

The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force, and none of the at least eight other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Laquan McDonald was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m. Attorneys for the estate of Laquan entered into negotiations with the City of Chicago approving a $5 million settlement to McDonald's family.

Brandon Smith, a freelance journalist, and William Calloway, a community activist, filed a request for the video under the Freedom of Information Act in May 2015. When the request was denied, Smith filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago in Cook County Circuit Court. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent a letter to the Police Department the day before a court hearing, stating that they cannot withhold the video.

On November 19, Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama denied the city's request for a stay, ordering the video to be released to the public no later than November 25. The city did not appeal the judge's decision. On November 24, the video was released. On December 16, Van Dyke was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct. On December 29, 2015, Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to the charges. BUT, on October 5, 2018, Van Dyke was found guilty of second degree murder, as well as 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. And he will be going to JAIL!

After the verdict, prominent elected officials and others made statements about the guilty rendering of Van Dyke.

“In this case, the verdict was justified,” said Assistant State Minority Whip Terry Link.

“While nothing can make up for the senseless loss of young life, I am grateful that there is some justice for Laquan McDonald,” said Toni Preckwinke, Cook County Board President and mayoral candidate.

Word on the Street-Jason Van Dyke Trial

Annabelle

I believe the Laquan McDonald decision was unjust. Firing 16 shots should be more than second degree murder. He needs to be locked in prison for the rest of his life. Hopefully if a just decision is made, there won’t be much more injustice done to our community.

Jennifer

The officer was one hundred percent wrong, alright. Laquan needs to get the justice he deserves. Nobody should get the treatment that he got. The officer’s sentence should be long and the judge should not give him any mercy.

James

Van Dyke deserved the guilty verdict in the killing of Laquan McDonald. What he did was a prime example of unjust behavior and racism. There was no reason for him to kill a boy walking away from him to avoid a police conflict. The situation could’ve been handled better under the circumstances. When all is said and done, justice shall be served.

Brenda

It’s about time that a change be made and the courts step up and not rule in favor of a corrupt police officer. Things like this should not happen. If there is not a sufficient lengthy sentence given to Jason Van Dyke, then that must mean that something or someone does not want justice to be served. Our community depends on the integrity and action of the law enforcement. When justice is served, the common people will realize they are not in danger of corruption by the law and improved police relations will happen. I want to see justice for Laquan McDonald.

 

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