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Laquan McDonald Death: Trial Begins of Chicago Police Officer Who Shot Black Teen 16 Times
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=48359"><span class="small">David Taylor, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Monday, 17 September 2018 13:33

Taylor writes: "Jason Van Dyke faces two counts of first-degree murder over the death of McDonald, 17, in October 2014."

Jason Van Dyke in court on Friday. The graphic video - released the day Van Dyke was charged - led to months of protests and political upheaval. (photo: Antonio Perez/AP)
Jason Van Dyke in court on Friday. The graphic video - released the day Van Dyke was charged - led to months of protests and political upheaval. (photo: Antonio Perez/AP)


Laquan McDonald Death: Trial Begins of Chicago Police Officer Who Shot Black Teen 16 Times

By David Taylor, Guardian UK

17 September 18


Jason Van Dyke faces two counts of first-degree murder over the death of McDonald, 17, in October 2014

ideo of the shocking moment when a white police officer shot Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, 16 times was played to a Chicago jury on Monday at the start of a murder trial.

Jurors saw the police dashcam footage that captured the final seconds of McDonald’s life as Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, began shooting within six seconds of stepping out of his squad car.

The special prosecutor Joseph McMahon opened the prosecution’s case by telling the jury that “under very special circumstances” a police officer can legally shoot a person.

“A police officer has the legal right to use force and even deadly force but only when it is necessary. What was necessary that night [of] October 20 2014 was the arrest of Laquan McDonald; but it was not necessary to kill Laquan to do so.”

He told the jury they were in court today and Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder because “not a single shot was necessary or justified”.

McMahon counted off the shots, repeatedly hitting the table in front of him with a finger for emphasis. He said: “In total, this defendant decides to shoot Laquan McDonald not once, not twice, but three, four, five, six, seven eight. He’s only half done. Nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 15, 16 times in total – 16 gunshots into the defenceless body of Laquan McDonald.”

McMahon described police answering a 911 call after McDonald was reportedly seen attempting to break into a truck.

He described how the first police officers on the scene kept a distance from McDonald after spotting him walking. An autopsy would later show that McDonald, who was carrying a 3in bladed knife, had the drug PCP in his system.

McMahon said the first two officers saw the knife in his hand, radioed for backup and pursued him, one on foot within 15ft and one in the squad car. A Taser unit had been called and was en route. By the time Van Dyke’s squad car arrived, 12 minutes after the initial 911 call, there were police cars in front, behind and to the side of McDonald.

McMahon said: “This defendant gets out of his vehicle. From the moment he gets out of his vehicle, six seconds later he pulls the trigger …1.6 seconds after the defendant starts to shoot Laquan McDonald, Laquan McDonald is knocked to the ground, never to get up again.

“For the next 12.5 seconds, the defendant continues to pull the trigger of the gun over and over until he empties the entire clip.”

Van Dyke’s partner got out of the car and kicked away the knife. The prosecutor said: “What is the defendant doing? He attempts to reload with 16 more, until his partner stops him and says, ‘We got this’.”

Van Dyke faces two counts of first-degree murder, one charge of official misconduct and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot fired.

Defence lawyer Daniel Herbert began his opening statement by describing Van Dyke making breakfast for his children, “kissing his beautiful wife” and reporting for his “tour of duty”.

Herbert said: “Jason Van Dyke is not a murderer, had no intention of going out to kill Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke never knew Laquan McDonald.

“The evidence is going to show that he was a scared police officer, fearful for his life and others and he acted within his training.”

The prosecution argued that McDonald was not on trial and that the officer who shot him had no knowledge of the drugs in his system, nor his troubled childhood and family background. But the defence told the jury that before he died, McDonald had been on “a wild rampage through the city for 24 hours” including attempting to attack someone with a knife.

“The government wants you to look at just the video, the final chapter, without reading the rest of the book, the final two minutes of a two-hour movie, without showing you the context,” Herbert said.

He told the jury: “If the decision to shoot was lawful, there is no crime.” He said Van Dyke had reason to believe McDonald was going to hurt someone and that he was in fear when he took the decision to shoot.

Herbert said: “What happened to Laquan McDonald is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy, it’s not a murder and that’s what the evidence is going to show.”

Proceedings had begun with Herbert arguing to have the jury pool thrown out, claiming they have been prejudiced by protests, and that the case should be moved out of the city.

Cook county judge Vincent Gaughan denied the motion to discharge the jury and rejected arguments from the defence to move the trial out of the city.

Van Dyke entered the Leighton criminal court building at about 7.45am before any protesters arrived. He was surrounded by a security detail and one report said he was wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit.

Seven protesters arrived at about 8.30am, marching as they chanted: “From the slave catchers and the KKK to the killer cops of today, convict Van Dyke and throw him in jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to face trial for killing someone on duty in 50 years. The graphic video – released the day Van Dyke was charged – led to months of protests and political upheaval.

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+5 # economagic 2018-09-18 07:39
Whut th'. . . ??? Tell us more about the “wild rampage through the city for 24 hours.” Has this been mentioned before? Did the officer know about it? How was it allowed to proceed for 24 hours (in Chicago) if it was serious enough to lead a "trained" officer to shoot the man 18 times? How is it that Chicago police officers are "trained" to shoot a suspect 16 times, or any times once the suspect is lying on the ground bleeding and clearly disabled? Are USian police officers "trained" to fear for their life any time they confront a possible suspect? Are the "trainers" aware that police work is not even in the top ten most lethal occupations? (Fishing, logging, and piloting aircraft top the list.) Why are applicants for police work not tested before being accepted for "training" to select FOR those with courage and even temperament under pressure?

Or is our society so debased that we allow and possibly encourage a culture of fear among those we depend on for protection? Could that be one reason for the appearance of fear public among the public at large?
 
 
+5 # elizabethblock 2018-09-18 09:05
"Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to face trial for killing someone on duty in 50 years."

This fact speaks for itself.
 
 
+2 # PCPrincess 2018-09-18 11:30
If they don't come back with at least Murder II (the jury), I give up on humanity. (well, I've already given up on approximately 85% of humanity already.... so:)
 
 
+2 # PCPrincess 2018-09-18 11:31
Please, please, please - Let us post instantly again. I want to have conversations and discussions, NOT: post, close window, hope to come back and see the article on the front page later, and THEN see what discussions may or may not have happened. This is just so unacceptable.