A graphic dashcam video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's shooting death at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was released late Tuesday by a judge's order. Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state's attorney, announced charges against Van Dyke at a press conference Tuesday morning. Later, Cook County judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the city to release the video no later than Wednesday.
On Oct. 20, 2014, officers responded to a call stating that a man carrying a knife was attempting to break into cars in a trucking yard. McDonald, whose autopsy revealed PCP in his system, allegedly antagonized the officers, pounding on the windshield of their vehicle and puncturing a front tire with his knife. The officers then called for backup, and within 30 seconds of arriving, Van Dyke had fired 16 rounds, killing McDonald in the middle of a busy commercial road.
McDonald was a ward of the state when he died. He was primarily raised by his grandmother, but she died in 2013. His high school principal recalls McDonald as a happy kid. "He was coming every day, joking and even giving hugs,” Thomas Gattuso, principal of Sullivan House High School, said in an interview.
The city was expected to appeal the case, but Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel denounced Van Dyke's actions during a call to community leaders, urging peace in reaction to the video's release. "This is a time where we're going to have to, all of us collectively, exercise our leadership as a city and exercise the leadership in this city to provide the space for people to express themselves, how they feel, but do it in a civic, focused and peaceful way and not allow any type sense of protest to be anything but that," Emanuel said during the six minute call.
Van Dyke has had previous complaints filed with the department. In 2013, a Hispanic man accused Van Dyke and another officer of hitting him during a traffic stop and laughing at him because he had hearing and speech impairments. In 2011, a black man claimed that Officer Van Dyke had choked him and twisted his arm during a drunken-driving arrest. Van Dyke was not found at fault for either incident.
Mayor Emanuel announced in a press conference that Van Dyke has already been removed from the CPD payroll and is currently being held without bail. Judge Donald Panarese Jr. said the video was "pertinent for a bond hearing" and Van Dyke could not be released until a judge could view the video on Monday. Van Dyke will remain in jail at least until then.