Jason Van Dyke, the cop who shot him, was charged earlier today with first-degree murder but the dashcam video wasn’t released until a few hours ago. There are protests happening tonight in Chicago as I write this. That’s McDonald walking away from the camera along the yellow line as the squad car pulls up to the scene; Van Dyke’s squad car pulls up past him a bit farther down the road. McDonald has a folding knife on him and the cops know that. You’ll see Van Dyke and his partner get out of the car with guns drawn. The NYT sets the stage:
In Officer Van Dyke’s case, the police were summoned to the city’s southwest side one night in October 2014 in response to a report of a man with a knife trying to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. Mr. McDonald, who was holding a folding knife, refused to drop it when officers told him to, the authorities have said, and he began walking or jogging away. Officers began following him, and one called for backup from any nearby police unit with a stun gun.
At one point, Mr. McDonald, whose autopsy showed the presence of the drug PCP in his system, pounded on the windshield of the squad car and punctured its front tire with the knife, city officials say.
They’re about 10 feet away from him, well within range of the “21-foot rule” for a knife attack — although the 21-foot rule is supposed to apply when a cop’s gun is holstered, not drawn and already pointed at the suspect. As the two cops move in, McDonald keeps walking — but he starts to veer away from them, not toward them, until he’s actually in the right-most lane when the shooting starts. After he spins around and collapses, you’ll see some smoke or debris kick up next to his body into the air at around 34 seconds as the bullets fly. McDonald, 17 years old and black, ended up being shot 16 times by Van Dyke, who’s white. Investigators could only be sure that two of the 16 bullets hit McDonald while he was standing. Some part or all of the other 14 struck him when he was already on the ground. There’s no way to tell for sure how many from the dashcam since Van Dyke ends up out of frame as soon as McDonald falls. None of the other seven cops at the scene fired.
Van Dyke was apparently reloading his gun while McDonald was on the ground when his partner called him off, stepping in to kick McDonald’s knife away. After the shooting, cops claimed that McDonald had lunged at them with the knife.
Why is this video, of a police shooting that happened 13 months ago, only being released now? Good question. The city fought its release at every turn but a judge finally ordered it published today. Which sure is convenient for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
If the #LaquanMcDonald video had come out in March, Chuy Garcia would have buried Rahm in the mayoral election.
— Jimmy (@JimmyPrinceton) November 25, 2015
Emanuel won that election in a runoff.
Exit question per the second clip below: Why did Chicago PD apparently delete surveillance footage of the shooting captured at a local Burger King?