According to Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez, Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald within 30 seconds of arriving at a Chicago crime scene. In October 2014, six seconds passed between the time Van Dyke exited his vehicle and fired his first shot. There were 14 to 15 seconds between the first shot and the last, and McDonald was laying on the ground for 13 of them.
Van Dyke was one of the last officers to arrive at the scene, and additional officers who were present have said that there was no need to use force against the boy. Van Dyke is being held without bond.
The timeline of the shooting comes from dashboard camera footage that a judge ordered the city to release by Wednesday. Alvarez’s office has had the video for a year, but the State’s Attorney insisted at a press conference Tuesday that her decision to charge Van Dyke with first degree murder had nothing to do with the court order. She said she made her decision to charge Van Dyke “weeks ago.”
Alvarez said both the video and witness testimony confirm that the teenager was actually walking away from the officers at the time he was shot. The fatal shooting occurred more than a year ago, but officials have refused to release the footage. Outrage over the boy’s death has been building since the shooting, and Chicago leaders have urged residents to protest peacefully once the video is released ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It is graphic, it is violent, it is chilling,” she said of the video. Alvarez, who has a controversial history of protecting Cook County officers, has faced criticism for dragging her feet throughout the investigation. Community leaders believe Van Dyke is only being charged to curb unrest when the dash cam video is released.
When questioned by journalists about the timing of her announcement, Alvarez responded, “I had already made my decision internally. It wasn’t really going to be much longer.”