The dashboard video is clear. In 2014, Laquan McDonald was carrying a knife, but moving away from police officers when they shot him 16 times.
The officers involved in his shooting claimed they feared for their personal safety, and the other officers at the scene backed them up. It sounded like another violent interaction with the police, where a possibly dangerous person lost his life.
But that’s not exactly what happened. Months after the incident, the Chicago Police Department bowed to intense pressure and released the dashboard video of the incident, which clearly showed McDonald moving away from the officers when they shot him 16 times.
The officer who pulled the trigger, Jason Van Dyke, was jailed for nearly seven years after being convicted of second-degree murder in October 2018.
He originally faced 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and up to 30 years for each of 16 counts of aggravated battery – one count for each shot he fired at McDonald, who was carrying a knife.
The Police Board of the City of Chicago said in its 55-page decision:
“Each respondent’s misconduct is incompatible with continued service as an officer and warrants a penalty of discharge from the Chicago Police Department.”
Patrick Murray, the first vice president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, decried the panel’s decision, saying the four officers did nothing wrong.