Laquan McDonald’s Murder Is Not Simply The Fault Of “One Bad Cop”

Yesterday morning, former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke (right) was charged with first degree murder in the 2014 death of a Black 17-year-old boy named Laquan McDonald (left). Later that evening, following a grossly tone-deaf press conference from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy (more on that in a second), they finally released dash cam video which clearly shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald as he walks away, and then continuing to fire a total of 16 bullets into McDonald’s body as he lay on the ground. While McDonald had a knife in his hand (he had allegedly been slashing car tires), he did not “lunge” at Van Dyke as the police department had initially claimed. Laquan McDonald was not killed in self-defense; this was nothing less than a cold-blooded execution-style murder. (I am not posting the video itself, but you can watch it here.)

The fact that it took 400 days for Van Dyke to be charged and for the video to be released is an abomination. But if the Chicago police department had their way, neither would have ever occurred. See, contrary to what McCarthy and Emmanuel said yesterday during their sham of a press conference, Jason Van Dyke DOES represent Chicago P.D. He is emblematic of its top-to-bottom corruption, which is why they did everything they could to protect him, including shooing away and lying to witnesses, lying about how many times McDonald was shot, lying about the teenager being the aggressor and squiring away that dash cam video. And they would have been successful if not for the bravery of a whistleblower within city government and the efforts of a couple journalists who refused to take the police department at their word. Thanks to them, McDonald’s autopsy was uncovered and revealed that he had been shot 16 times instead of once, Van Dyke’s name was released, that dash-cam video finally, at long last, was released to the media, and Van Dyke was charged as he should have been a year ago.

Lastly, if you think the jig is up and Chicago P.D. and Mayor Emmanuel are done trying to play shady, think again. Yesterday’s press conference made it blatantly clear that the city is not happy they’re being forced to do their fucking jobs. As journalists asked tough questions, their mics were purposefully muted. The journalist who successfully filed the FOIA request to have the dash cam video released was barred from attending the press conference. No one said a goddamn thing about the other officers who were present on the day Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald and did nothing to stop it or to attend to the teen as he lay dying on the ground, save for kicking the knife out of his hand. In fact, McCarthy and Emmanuel spent more time praising Chicago P.D. as a whole and lecturing citizens on how they should respond to video of the teen’s murder than they did actually discussing Van Dyke’s actions and their own grotesquely purposeful mishandling of the “investigation.” Emmanuel even had the gall to claim that he hadn’t yet watched the dash cam video – which is either a lie or an admittance that he doesn’t care enough to do his job. Every single person who is remotely involved with this case and its attempted coverup should be fired. Get rid of them. All of them. Every last fucking one.

It did not take 400 days for the police department to investigate this case. It took 400 days before they finally had to succumb to pressure and deigned to hold Van Dyke accountable for his actions — and they’re doing their damndest to disassociate themselves from him, to paint this as a case of “one bad cop” gone rogue. But Van Dyke murdered McDonald with the confidence of someone following protocol, because excusing and covering up police brutality is a matter of police protocol across this country, including and perhaps especially in Chicago.

To learn more about how the city of Chicago tried to cover up Laquan McDonald’s murder, I suggest reading this piece in the Chicago Reporter.

[Chicago Reporter]

[NY Times]

[Chicago Tribune]

[The Guardian]