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The shooting of Laquan McDonald

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The shooting of Laquan McDonald occurred on the night of October 20, 2014 at approximately 10 P.M. Officer Jason Van Dyke of the Chicago Police Department fired 16 rounds from a range of about 10 feet, striking McDonald multiple times. Laquan was 17 at the time and he attended high school on the west side of Chicago, where he also resided. Throughout his life, he lived with different relatives and in foster care because his mother was deemed unfit to care for him by the state. Laquan was a troubled child who had several run-ins with the juvenile system: school suspensions, expulsions, truancies and drug possession arrests. Officer Van Dyke was 36 at the time of the incident and a 14-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He is married with two children. The officer has 20 complaints filed against him by the citizens of the city. Ten of those complaints state that he used excessive force during a traffic stop and two involve the use of a firearm.

Around 10 P.M. on the night of October 20, 2014, the Police were called on to investigate someone carrying a knife and breaking into vehicles. When the officers arrived on the scene, they found McDonald and confronted him. He proceeded to slash one of the officer’s tires on his cruiser and damage his windshield with the knife. McDonald refused commands to drop the knife and Taser backup was called in. Reports say that when officer Van Dyke arrived on the scene, he exited his vehicle and began firing within 6 seconds of his arrival. The officer fired one shot initially, sending McDonald to the ground. As he lay on the ground still holding the knife, Van Dyke emptied the rest of his magazine into McDonald. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead at 10:42 P.M. The autopsy report for McDonald found that he had been shot in his neck, chest, back, both arms, right leg and was grazed on his head. As stated before, McDonald suffered 16 gunshot wounds, 9 of which were on his back. There was PCP found in McDonalds system. The dash-cams of several officers on the scene had been tampered with, more specifically the audio.

The FBI and state attorney’s office headed the criminal investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office also stepped in because there were discrepancies in the initial police report and the dash-cam video. For example, the report stated that McDonald lunged at an officer, but the video showed nothing of the sort. However, the video does show McDonald swinging the knife around and walking away from the police as Van Dyke opens fire on him. Officer Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on November 24, 2015. He turned himself in and spent 6 days in Cook County jail until he was released on bail set at $1,500,000. (Van Dyke posted %10) On December 16, he was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct. On December 29, Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to the charges. The status of the trial is still on-going, I believe. If Van Dyke is found guilty, he faces a sentence of 20 years to life in a state prison. This case is also the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder regarding an on-duty incident. After the release of the video in November, several protests ensued. As of March 23, 2017, the charges against officer Van Dyke were six counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot fired at Laquan McDonald.

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