Chicago Cop is Charged With Murder in Death of Black Teen Who Was Shot 16 Times

Chicago Cop is Charged With Murder in Death of Black Teen Who Was Shot 16 Times (Booking Photo)

A veteran Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a black teen, possibly marking the first on-duty murder charge ever for a Chicago cop in some 35 years.

Jason Van Dyke is charged with killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot more than a dozen times on the city's Southwest Side in October 2014.

In dash cam footage the city and police have not yet released, lawyers for the McDonald family say Van Dyke is seen jumping out of his squad car and, within seconds, unloading 16 rounds into the teen.

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Police maintain McDonald had refused to follow orders to drop a knife. They also point to post-mortem findings that Laquan had the hallucinogen PCP in his system at the time of his death.

In a news conference held Friday, Van Dyke's attorney, Daniel Q. Herbert, told reporters: "I can't speak why the (other) officers didn't shoot. But I certainly can speak to why my client shot, and it is he believed in his heart of hearts that he was in fear for his life, that he was concerned about the lives of (other) police officers."

At a bond hearing for Van Dyke, the prosecution laid out its case. In it was a first-hand account of the incident from a fellow officer who said Van Dyke was about to reload his weapon after emptying the first clip.

"Officer A reported that there was a brief pause in the shots when he looked at defendant and saw that he was preparing to reload his weapon. Officer A could hear McDonald struggling to breathe, told defendant to hold his fire."

At the hearing Tuesday, Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered Van Dyke held without bail until he could personally view the dash cam video.

“I believe it's pertinent for a bond hearing,” Panarese said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I'm sorry, but I'm holding you no bail until Monday.”

A woman who answered the phone at Herbert's law office declined to comment on the case Tuesday afternoon.

Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, would only verify the charges against Van Dyke.

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Video of the incident shows Van Dyke unloading his weapon as McDonald lay prone on the ground, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The autopsy shows the teen was shot at least twice in the back, notes the Associated Press.

Last week, a Cook County judge ordered the video to be released, finding the city had failed to prove that making it public would jeopardize the investigation.

The city subsequently changed its tune on the issue, saying it would release the video by Thanksgiving.

And, on Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel assailed the accused officer.

"One individual needs to be held accountable," Emanuel told reporter. "They need to be held accountable for what they've done."

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