Protests as Officer Charged With Murder Heads to Court


     CHICAGO (CN) – After a holiday weekend teeming with protests, a judge set bond at $1.5 million on Monday for the police officer accused of murdering Laquan McDonald.
     Judge Donald Panarese Jr. made it a point at this afternoon’s hearing to play the recently released dashboard-camera footage of McDonald’s Oct. 20, 2014, shooting.
     Panarese had noted last week that this footage would factor into his decision on whether to grant bond to Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald 16 times.
     Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the Chicago police, spent the holiday weekend in jail. On Black Friday, protesters swarmed Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago to protest the case as an example of police brutality.
     Claiming McDonald’s 2014 shooting was subject to a police cover-up, protesters want a federal investigation and the resignation of police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
     Linking arms on the city’s “Magnificent Mile,” approximately 1,000 protestors blocked shoppers’ entrance to many high-end stores, including Apple, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, Burberry and the Disney Store.
     Some stores temporarily locked their doors to keep protesters out, the Chicago Tribune reported, and many shoppers were angered by the disruption of Chicago’s glitziest retail district.
     To secure Van Dyke’s release from Cook County jail, the officer’s family and supporters will have to raise $150,000 – 10 percent of the bond.
     Van Dyke is happy with the bond award and is very concerned for his family, the officer’s attorney, Dan Herbert, said, according to an article by ABC News.
     This case marks the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in 35 years.
     The grainy dash cam footage shows 17-year-old McDonald walking down the middle of the street on Oct. 20, 2014, away from the dash-cam-powered police cruiser, and parallel to another police SUV.
     McDonald is not walking toward Van Dyke, who is standing several yards away beside the SUV, when Van Dyke fires his weapon.
     Though the footage shows McDonald drop to the ground at the first bullet, Van Dyke fires 15 more rounds. The video then shows another officer run up to the body and kick something – possibly a knife – out of McDonald’s hand.
     Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 second before he opened fire.
     There is no audio attached to the video.
     According to media reports, the tragic series of events leading to McDonald’s death began when police were called to Archer Heights, a neighborhood in southwest Chicago, to investigate reports that a man with a knife was trying to break into vehicles.
     The police said McDonald tried to walk away when police approached him. McDonald is said to have pounded on the windshield of a squad car and punctured its front tire.
     Investigators contend that McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of the incident, that officers told him to drop his knife, and that he lunged at them instead.
     A witness told John Kass of the Chicago Tribune a different story, saying McDonald “wasn’t attacking anybody.”
     “He was looking for a way out,” the witness said. “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.”
     Chicago made the rare decision to settle with McDonald’s family before they could bring a lawsuit over the teen’s death. It paid McDonald’s family $5 million in April.
     It remains unclear why Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez waited 400 days to charge Van Dyke.
     Some speculate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who faced a fierce re-election campaign in spring and was forced into the first mayoral runoff in Chicago history, wanted to until after the election to release video of the shooting recorded by a police dashboard camera.
     There are also serious questions as to whether police intentionally destroyed private surveillance footage at a Burger King about 50 yards from the site of McDonald’s death.
     The manager of this Burger King told a grand jury that police entered the restaurant after the shooting, demanding to see the surveillance video. When they left, 85 minutes of video, including video covering the time of the shooting, was missing, the Chicago Tribune reported.
     Superintendent McCarthy has emphatically denied all police wrongdoing with regard to this footage.

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