The Laquan McDonald Video Could Explain Charges

On Tuesday, Chicago police released dashcam footage from the night of October 20, 2014, that shows a young, black man being shot and killed in the middle of a street by officers responding to a call. The video of Laquan McDonald's shooting death more than a year ago contains graphic and disturbing images — but it could explain why the local state attorney announced murder charges against the shooter, Officer Jason Van Dyke, on Tuesday morning. In response to the video's release, the streets of Chicago erupted in protest on Tuesday night.

On the night of the fatal shooting, Chicago police officers responded to a call reporting a man allegedly carrying a knife while trying to break into vehicles at a truck yard. The man turned out to be McDonald, a 17-year-old ward of the state, who had PCP in his system at the time, according to an autopsy. The officers on the scene called for backup, claiming that McDonald pounded on the windshield of their vehicle and punctured a tire with his knife. The dash-cam footage does not have audio, but it appears that the footage starts with this call for backup. (Warning: The remainder of this story features graphic images that may be disturbing to some readers.)

At the start of the video, the officers in the vehicle were on patrol and in traffic. Not until almost two minutes into the video do you notice the vehicle pulling around the white SUV in front of it — this is probably when the call for backup came in. Once the officers in the video begin to respond, it takes them about three minutes to get near the scene, according to the timestamp on the footage.

At this point, it appears the officers are pulling up to the truck yard where McDonald had allegedly tried to break into cars. When the officers arrive, there is a man (not McDonald) who appears to point in the direction of McDonald. By now, McDonald has made his way into the middle of the street, where the other officers are responding.

Seconds later, several police cruisers pursue McDonald into the middle of the street. He is running, but he slows as another police SUV approaches him. He slows almost to a walk as police officers begin to get out of their vehicles.

McDonald appears to be holding something in his right hand — possibly the knife he was reported with — as he walks past multiple police officers. At least one officer raises his gun toward McDonald, but McDonald continues walking. Later, it becomes clear that at least two officers have weapons drawn and are approaching McDonald. Without audio, it's pretty much impossible to know what the officers or McDonald are saying to one another.

Less than a minute after the backup officers arrive on the scene, McDonald falls the ground. State Attorney Anita Alvarez, who announced that Van Dyke would face murder charges, said on Tuesday that Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before he started shooting. In total, McDonald was shot 16 times.

Ultimately, the dashcam footage released Tuesday shows the chilling truth behind a tragic night in 2014. Although the images are disturbing, it's hard not to watch the video without thinking how familiar this whole saga is becoming. That's not to say we shouldn't watch the video; on the contrary, it's meant to be a wake-up call that we shouldn't have to watch another video like this again. Watch the entire video for yourself, as published by a local news station in Phoenix, below:

Images: FOX 10 Phoenix/YouTube (5)