Activists and family members continue to call for justice in the Laquan McDonald case, and joined together on the anniversary of the 17-year-old’s death at the hands of Chicago police two years ago.
According to The Chicago Reporter, more than 100 gathered on Thursday for an evening vigil outside the Chicago Police Department with renewed calls to terminate all of the officers involved in the case, as well as to recall Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
— The Chicago Reporter (@ChicagoReporter) October 20, 2016
On Oct. 20, 2014, McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke officially reported that the teen lunged at him, forcing him to use lethal force. Five of his colleagues allegedly backed that version up. But video later released by a judge shows McDonald walking away as he is shot in the back.
The dashcam video shows McDonald walking down South Pulaski Road with a knife in his hand, strolling away from officers when Officer Jason Van Dyke jumps out of his vehicle and pulls his gun. Van Dyke began firing six seconds after arriving on scene and took 15 seconds to fire 16 shots.
In those moments, shortly before he is shot, McDonald never faces Van Dyke. He spins after being shot and crumples to the ground, his body stiff as he falls. Van Dyke continues to fire, unloading every round from his 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun. The teen was struck by all the bullets, most of them while he was limp on the ground.
Van Dyke, his partner and four other officers allegedly backed up his account.
The department fought the release of the video for 13 months until a judge ordered its release.
Mayor Emanuel repeatedly denied that he was involved in keeping the video from being released during a heated mayoral election. Van Dyke became the first Chicago officer charged with first-degree murder since 1980. He pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder.
The political fallout was swift. The next week, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy resigned at Emanuel’s request and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her re-election campaign in March – many activists campaigned against her.
Emanuel has created a Police Accountability Task Force that actually released a scathing report on the department in April, but many feel that this is not enough.
CNN also reports that earlier Thursday, activists gathered near the site of the shooting and called on the Illinois General Assembly to pass a law that would allow voters to recall some elected positions. The hope is that “Laquan’s law” could be used to recall Emanuel.
McDonald’s family released a statement: “We look forward to the day when Jason Van Dyke will be held responsible for Laquan’s senseless murder and everyone involved in trying to cover up this criminal act is held accountable,” it read. “Only then will justice truly be served.”