A Chicago police officer killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by shooting him 16 times. A police dashboard camera that captured much of the shooting has lead to a “speedy city settlement” of $5 million dollars for the family of McDonald, just six months after his death. The family was asking for $16 million, possibly for the 16 bullets the officer fired at McDonald. There is now a federal investigation around the case.
According to a statement by U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, the joint investigation also involves the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct.
This probe into the Chicago police officer who fired the fatal shots comes at a sensitive time in our country when police are garnering fear into the hearts of many–mostly people of color, as we watch them shoot to kill as opposed to protect and serve. Not to mention the outcry around the Chicago police shooting death of 22-year-old unarmed Black woman, Rekia Boyd. We’re having a hard time trusting officers who continue to tell their side of the story (as they’re becoming the only survivors): “I feared for my life.” These five words tend to allow them to get away with murder and it’s certainly the story the shooting officer is telling.
According to reports, McDonald had a knife and was attempting to break into cars in Chicago’s Archer Heights neighborhood. It’s being reported on local Chicago news that McDonald was slashing tires of cars in that neighborhood.
Two police officers found McDonald holding a knife in his right hand. Allegedly, McDonald ignored orders to drop the weapon and instead walked down 40th Street while one of the officers followed on foot and another in a marked squad car.
The dash cam showed McDonald surrounded by officers, who were allegedly waiting on a stun gun, when one officer (who’s identity has not been released) jumped out of his squad car with his gun drawn and opened fire, hitting McDonald with 16 bullets.
According to a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, McDonald had lunged at officers with the knife. However, Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton acknowledged that McDonald’s family’s lawyers would point out that none of the other five officers fired. The family also has insisted “very vehemently” that the video footage showed McDonald was moving away from, not toward, officers prior to the shooting.
An autopsy found that McDonald suffered wounds to his chest, neck, back, arms and right leg, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. McDonald was a troubled kid trying to get his life together. He was a ward of the state and in temporary custody of his uncle.
Patton also noted that while McDonald had “an extensive juvenile record,” he had found work last summer through a church. A month before McDonald died, he enrolled in the Sullivan House High School, an alternative school for troubled youth and Patton said his mentor would have testified that McDonald was getting good grades.
A spokesman for police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said that the officer who shot McDonald has been put on paid desk duty and stripped of his powers as an officer, pending the outcome of the investigation.
SMH. It seems like these excuses of fearing for their lives are becoming more frequent. We’ll keep our eyes on this ongoing investigation, but we’re glad McDonald’s family is receiving some sort of justice.