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A Chicago Police Officer Was Just Charged with First-Degree Murder

Jason Van Dyke will face charges for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

Screencap vice NBC Chicago

A police officer in Chicago is facing first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

A video of the October 20, 2014, confrontation released today shows McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke. Prosecutors said the cop even begun to reload after "clouds of debris" had been blown off of the deceased's body.

McDonald punctured a car's tires with a knife while high on PCP, police said, and the officer claimed he acted out of fear for his life.


Originally, that footage was to be disseminated after the settlement of a $5 million lawsuit brought on by McDonald's family. Then a judge ruled that a shortened version of the video must be released by Wednesday. That video was leaked just before a Tuesday evening press conference.

The autopsy lists gunshot wounds to McDonald's left scalp, neck, left and right chests, left elbow, right upper arm, left forearm, right upper leg, left upper back, left elbow, right upper arm, right arm, right forearm, right hand, right lower back, and right upper leg—basically everywhere.

Although the shooting was particularly brutal, the fact that charges were filed is remarkable—a database made public earlier this month revealed that Windy City cops are rarely held accountable. Between 2001 and 2015, black Chicago residents made 60 percent of complaints against officers and only 3 percent resulted in any sort of disciplinary action.

During the press conference, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he knew people would be upset upon viewing the video and would want to protest.

"At the end of the day," he told reporters, "we knew this day was coming."

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