Chicago police officer charged with first degree murder

CHICAGO – A state prosecutor said Tuesday that the impending release of a 2014 dash-cam video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing a black teenager prompted her to move up the announcement of the officer’s murder charge out of concern the footage would spark violence. “I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of Chicagoans,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. She insisted, however, that she made a decision “weeks ago” to charge the officer and an order from the judge for police to release the video by Wednesday did not influence that. Earlier in the day, the state’s attorney’s office said in a news release that Jason Van Dyke, who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014, has been charged with first-degree murder. A judge denied him bond at a noon hearing. Alvarez defended the amount of time it took to charge Van Dyke and said cases involving police officers present “highly complex” legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than “rush to judgment.”

People who have seen the video told The Associated Press that it shows McDonald armed with a small knife and walking away from officers. Van Dyke opens fire from about 15 feet and keeps shooting after the teen falls to the ground. Police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios. Police say McDonald, who was found with PCP in his system at the time of his death, was behaving erratically and was refusing to listen to police commands to drop the knife, the Chicago Tribune reports. An autopsy says McDonald was shot at least twice in the back.  “It is my determination that this defendant’s act of shooting Laquan…was not justified and not a proper use of deadly force by this police officer,” Alvarez said. She added that “the officer went overboard.” (Fox News).

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