Chicago calm a day after release of video of police shooting teenager – Reuters

CHICAGO Chicago was calm on Wednesday, a day after the release of a graphic video showing the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white policeman charged with murder, a peaceful response compared with outbursts of violence in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over other deaths at the hands of police.

Authorities in the city of 2.7 million people had braced for violence, but peaceful demonstrations so far have led to just five arrests with more protests planned for later on Wednesday, one at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday and another on Friday.

Protests Wednesday at Chicago City Hall and the criminal courthouse were sparsely attended, and a protest of between 100 and 200 people in downtown Chicago at rush hour drew stares from shoppers. Some of the protesters chanted “indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

A national debate on race and police tactics has lead to protests and sometimes violence in major cities following the deaths of mostly unarmed black men at the hands of police officers across the United States. The killings, some of which were captured on video, were a factor in the rise of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement and an issue in the November 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Prosecutors announced first-degree murder charges on Tuesday against officer Jason Van Dyke, 37, in the Oct. 20, 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times and started shooting just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload.

Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, said on CNN that a dashboard camera video, released by the city on Tuesday 13 months after the shooting, was not an indicator of his client’s guilt. He said Van Dyke arrived on a street on the southwest side of Chicago 18 minutes after a suspect carrying a knife was reported to have threatened businesses and vandalized police cruisers.

“Video by its nature is two dimensional. It distorts images. So what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear,” Herbert said. He said Van Dyke “truly was in fear for his life as well as the lives of his fellow police officers.”

Authorities said McDonald was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system.


Van Dyke was being held in protective custody at a hospital facility away from the general population of Cook County Jail, the county sheriff’s office said. It said it could not disclose any medical reasons.

Five people were arrested during protests on Tuesday night, police said, but on Wednesday a felony charge was dropped against Malcolm X. London, 22, a Chicago poet and activist accused of striking a police officer.

Two of the best-known candidates in the presidential elections commented on the Chicago shooting charges.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on CNN that while rising violence in big cities makes it hard to be a police officer, “when they do what appears to have happened here, they should be charged, as was the case in this case.”

Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton said in a statement that as criminal charges proceed, “We also have to grapple as a country with broader questions about ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected.”

She said there were police officers all over the United States “honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force.”


The release of the video has been controversial because it took so long. It was made public only after an independent journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The police department had argued that releasing the video would taint multiple investigations.

Members of the Chicago City Council’s black caucus demanded the resignation of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

“We want McCarthy gone. We want new leadership,” Alderman Roderick Sawyer said at a news conference.

Alderman Howard Brookins said the council, which signed off on a $5 million city settlement with McDonald’s family even before a lawsuit was filed, was misled about the content of the video. Brookins said council members were told something was “fuzzy, something grey” about it.

Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades. Among the comments posted on the Chicago Police Department’s Facebook page were some asking people not to judge all officers by the actions of one.

The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 union is raising money for Van Dyke to be released on bond. At a brief court hearing on Tuesday, a judge denied bond for Van Dyke.

(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz and Nick Carey in Chicago; Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Angela Moon and Melissa Fares in New York; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)


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