On the fatal night of October 20th, 2014, 17 year old Laquan Mcdonald was struck 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke (37 years old). Yesterday afternoon, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepared to release the dash cam footage at city hall as calmly as he could. The 7 minute dash cam footage shows an intense police pursuit that started from reports of a radio being stolen out of a truck. After catching up, dash cam footage shows 17 year old Laquan jaywalking in the middle of 41st and Pulaski in the Archer Heights neighborhood, knife in hand. After nearly getting too close to the cops, Laquan then redirects his path away from the officers. This is when the frame shifts only to Laquan where his body is hurled to the ground while smoke from the bullets that struck him dissipate. Police reports indicate that one of the officers on the scene demanded Officer Dyke to stop shooting as he saw the motionless teen lying on the floor. Out of the 8 cops on duty at the scene, Van Dyke was the only one that fired. None of the cops found a reason to shoot Mcdonald. Unfortunately some of the details are inconclusive due to the absence of audio from the dash cam footage. Van Dkye has defended himself (alongside his lawyer) in court by testifying that he was in imminent danger because the suspect was approaching him. Although video evidence and witness reports all refute his claims, Van Dyke still believes that the shooting was justified for self defense.
The city has already paid a $5 million dollar settlement for the victim's family and an additional $500,000 for a variety allegations (18 civilian complaints) of misconduct and excessive force committed in the past by the officer. Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder. He is currently on administrative leave with no pay, held with no bond until Monday and can spend 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
"I understand that people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video," said Mayor Emanuel in his announcement Tuesday prior to the release of the dash cam footage. "It's fine to be passionate, but it's essential to be peaceful."
Sharp criticism came from the protesters because Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago police department tried to keep the video sealed for more than a year. Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the city that they have until November 25th to release the footage, even though the family requested that it not be. The video release was forced due to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that was filed by freelance journalist Brandon Smith. Protesters have since peacefully marched to the streets and blocked Roosevelt and S. Loop after the video release. Chants of "16 shots," "we got to fight back," and "they left him dead" roar in the streets from protesters. The Black Lives Matter leader Deray Mckesson has demanded the resignation of Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
Currently the world has embraced the loss of many lives, recently with the terrorist attacks in Paris, the bombings in Syria, and the mass murders committed by criminals, thugs, gangs and terrorists from all around the world. Our country has produced a superfluous amount of problems that direly needs a solution. From politics to business, education debt, homelessness and poverty rates and crime, the one frequent incident stirring controversy is police murders. So far since the beginning of 2015, 1027 people have been killed by a police officer. Those who stand up for the families are not here to defend the guilt or innocence of the victims; but rather the damage and turmoil that the families face after finding out that their son, daughter, father, mother, friend, or loved one has been killed. It may be true that some of the killings were justified, but some cases have displayed unnecessary killings. In those cases where police officers are not indicted nor jailed for murder, the citizens of the city protest because they feel there is a lack of accountability from the police department and their city officials. Due to the lack of accountability and trust, some citizens become frustrated and with clouded judgement react in violent and criminal behavior. These wrongful actions were demonstrated by certain protesters in Ferguson (Michael Brown) and Baltimore (Freddy Grey). Although not all of the protesters were violent, the mainstream media chose to focus on all the looting and destruction instead. Since 2001, our country has had more citizens killed than soldiers overseas. The only attacks that our country has faced are mass shootings in public places by mentally unstable individuals, on duty police officers shooting civilians and furious weather disasters. With all these different incidents occurring so frequently, people may need to reevaluate who or what they should be worried about. Do you still think our country is the best and safest in the whole world?
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