17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot dead by officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Here is how the police union described the shooting to the Chicago Tribune for an article published on October 21:
“He’s got a 100-yard stare. He’s staring blankly,” [Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat] Camden said of the teen. “[He] walked up to a car and stabbed the tire of the car and kept walking.”
Officers remained in their car and followed McDonald as he walked south on Pulaski Road. More officers arrived and police tried to box the teen in with two squad cars, Camden said. McDonald punctured one of the squad car’s front passenger-side tires and damaged the front windshield, police and Camden said.
Officers got out of their car and began approaching McDonald, again telling him to drop the knife, Camden said. The boy allegedly lunged at police, and one of the officers opened fire.
McDonald was shot in the chest and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m.
The Chicago police have had video of the shooting for a year, but refused release it until ordered to do so by a judge.
On Tuesday, the video finally released, and Van Dyke was charged with murder.
The video directly contradicts the account provided to the press after McDonald’s death. McDonald does not “lunge” at the police or do anything threatening. It also shows Van Dyke firing repeatedly at McDonald after he is on the ground and motionless.
In April, police officer Michael Thomas Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott after a video contradicted the official police account.
Many police shootings are not captured on video, however. The prosecution of police officers for murder is extremely rare.