A white Chicago police officer was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday in the death of a 17-year-old black man, just hours before city officials appealed for calm as they released a chilling video of the officer shooting the teenager as he lay crumpled on the ground.
The grainy, nighttime dashboard camera video, which a judge ordered released last week, shows the young man running and then walking past officers in the middle of the street and spinning when bullets suddenly strike him down. For a moment, lying on the ground, he moves but then is still after he appears to be shot several more times. An officer kicks an object away from his body. The video shows none of the officers on the scene offering assistance to the teenager, Laquan McDonald.
Standing with community leaders before releasing the video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy, the Chicago police superintendent, said they expected demonstrations in response to the graphic nature of the video, and urged people to avoid violence. “It’s fine to be passionate, but it is essential that it remain peaceful,” Mr. Emanuel said.
The officer, Jason Van Dyke, 37, who has been with the Police Department for 14 years, is the first Chicago police officer in decades to be charged with murder in an on-duty shooting. The city previously fought to keep the video private, citing a continuing investigation into the shooting.
Officer Van Dyke was charged and the video released just over a year after Mr. McDonald was shot 16 times, even after he had stepped slightly away from the officer, prosecutors said. Witnesses said Mr. McDonald, who was carrying a three-inch folding knife, never spoke to Officer Van Dyke or any of the other officers and did not make threatening moves toward him. None of at least seven other police officers on the scene fired their weapons. (Read more from “Chicago Braces After Video of Police Shooting Is Released” HERE)