The white Chicago ex-police officer who killed LaQuan McDonald, a Black teen, in a hail of 16 bullets is not a racist, according to the former cop’s African-American in-law.
He’s speaking out for the first time on behalf of Jason Van Dyke, who’s standing trial in a Cook County courtroom for the first-degree murder of McDonald. It appears to many observers that his statement is a sign of desperation.
Keith Thompson, who is married to the sister of Van Dyke’s wife, said the family had been silent at the former officer’s request because Van Dyke was concerned about their safety, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We may be a biracial family, but we are a blended family, a close family. Although I’m an only child, this guy has become my brother, the only one I’ve ever had,” said 35-year-old Thompson, who also called Van Dyke his “best friend.”
Still, it’s hard for many to understand some other explanation for Van Dyke’s indifference to shooting the Black teenager 16 times—continuing to fire even while he was on the ground dying.
Van Dyke fatally shot McDonald in 2014, and cops released the shooting video in 2015, only after a court order. The video and the circumstances surrounding its release ignited massive angry protests. Chicago Police Department officials faced allegations of covering up the shooting, with its account contradicting what dashboard camera video showed—McDonald trying to walk away from Van Dyke when the cop opened fire.
“When Jay was first charged four years ago, I did not believe for one second this was a racial incident. No how. No way. I never believed this was about color. I never believed what happened was motivated by racism because Jay is not that kind of guy,” Thompson said.
But Thompson’s comments didn’t seem to persuade folks who shared their thoughts on social media.