Police Officer that Shot Chicago Teen to Face Murder Charge

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A white Chicago police officer shown on video fatally shooting an African-American teen was expected to be charged with first-degree murder Tuesday as City Hall braced for the long-awaited public release of the police camera footage, according to multiple sources.

Officer Jason Van Dyke is shown on the dash-cam video jumping out of his squad car and within seconds unloading 16 rounds into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, lawyers for McDonald’s family have said. After the first few shots knocked McDonald to the ground, Van Dyke fired another volley that struck the teen repeatedly as his body lay in almost a fetal position on the ground, according to the lawyers.

Police said McDonald, who had PCP in his system when he died, was behaving erratically and refusing police commands to drop a 4-inch folding knife. The police union has maintained the officer fired in fear of his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife. Van Dyke’s lawyer also has said the officer feared for his life.

Van Dyke, 37, who has been on paid desk duty since the October 2014 incident, is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing at noon Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue, the sources said.

The case would mark the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in nearly 35 years. Van Dyke would face a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charge.

The charges would come less than a week after a Cook County judge ordered the release of the video, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration had long sought to keep out of public view. As Emanuel urged prosecutors to conclude their investigation Monday, he met with community leaders and aldermen to defend his handling of the controversy amid criticism City Hall has not done enough to address police misconduct. Continue Reading

Article Org: chicagotribune.com

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