*The Chicago Police Department has less than a week to release a video of an officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times.
Police had refused to release footage of the October 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. Investigators claim McDonald refused to drop a knife when officers confronted him while responding to a call about a person walking down a street with a knife on the city’s southwest side. The shooting was recorded on police dash camera video, but city attorneys said it wouldn’t be released until a federal grand jury finishes its investigation of the shooting.
Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the department to publicly release the video by next Wednesday, and refused to give the department more time pending a possible appeal of his decision, reports the AP.
The video is graphic, according to some who have seen it: The 17-year-old wielding a small knife is walking away from police when one officer opens fire, shooting the teen 16 times.
The city’s attorney asked for more time before the release so the city could decide whether to appeal the judge’s decision. But Valderrama said the Police Department had no legal right to withhold the video because other agencies are the ones investigating the shooting.
McDonald’s mother doesn’t want the video released. She fears it could lead to violent protests like those in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after police-involved deaths of black residents in those cities, according to the family’s attorney, Jeffrey Neslund.
Neslund, who has seen the video, said the footage shows McDonald was armed with a small knife. But he said it also clearly shows that the teen was walking away from police when a white officer, who was about 15 feet away, opened fire.
“You see the officer begin to shoot, and he (McDonald) spins and falls to the ground,” he said. Neslund said the officer then “continues to shoot him.”
The Chicago City Council took the unusual step in April of approving a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, even though the family hadn’t filed a lawsuit, after being advised to do so by a city attorney who had seen the video.
An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot 16 times, including at least twice in his back. The report also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in McDonald’s system.
Police have said the officer who shot, later identified by his attorney and others as Jason Van Dyke, was stripped of his police powers and assigned to desk duty after the incident.