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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Chicago Officer Charged in Shooting Death of Black Teen

(CN) - A white Chicago police officer was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of a black teenager he fatally shot in October 2014.

The charges filed against Officer Jason Van Dyke come a day before the city must release a video of the shooting, which was captured by the dashboard camera in a police vehicle.

Van Dyke has already turned himself in to authorities and is scheduled to appear at a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Dan Herbert, the attorney representing Van Dyke said his client, a 14-year member of the force, believed the shooting was justified because he feared for his life.

Laquan McDonald died on Oct. 20, 2014, after allegedly being shot multiple times by Van Dyke.

According to media reports, police were called to a neighborhood in Southwest Chicago on the night of the incident to investigate a report of a man with a knife who was said to be trying to break into vehicles.

The police said officers encountered McDonald, and proceeded to follow him as he walked away. At one point, he is said to have pounded on the windshield of a squad car and puncture its front tire.

The Chicago Police Department has said McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of the incident and lunged at officers with a knife he'd been told to drop.

A witness told John Kass of the Chicago Tribune that "he (McDonald) wasn't attacking anybody. He was looking for a way out. He was just trying to turn away. The kid turned away, was dropped at the first shot or two, and the police kept shooting and shooting."

According to a report from the Cook County medical examiner's officers, some of the 16 bullets entered the back of the teen's body.

Last week, Associate Judge Franklin Valderrama, of the Cook County court, ruled that a dash cam video of the shooting which had been sought by a freelance reporter much be made public, setting a Nov. 25 deadline.

The city, which had long fought the tape's release, could have appealed Valderrama's ruling, but decided not to do so.

Instead, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city would comply with the order, and also publicly condemned the officer's actions.

"Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law, and to provide safety to our residents," Emanuel said. "In this case, unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level."

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