Protesters in Chicago prepared for a new round of action on Sundayafter the city released documents showing that at least five Chicago police officers told a story about the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald that is wholly unsupported by the notorious video footage of the incident.
McDonald was shot 16 times in 15 seconds while he was walking away from officers. Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot him, has been charged with murder.
But, as the New York Times noted, that version of events differs markedly from the story that multiple officers told—something we know thanks to newly released police records:
[A]t least five other officers on the scene that night corroborated a version of events similar to the one Officer Van Dyke, now charged with murder in the shooting, gave his supervisors: that Mr. McDonald was aggressively swinging his knife and was moving toward the police, giving Officer Van Dyke no choice but to start shooting.
The revelation will only heighten the scandal swirling around the Chicago Police Department. Protests have rocked the city since the McDonald video was released. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fired the department’s superintendent in response to the scandal. There is also the possibility of an investigation by the Justice Department into the department’s wider problems.
A Chicago Tribune report on Saturday detailed some of the ways in which the department has managed to evade the kind of public scrutiny it is currently facing:
Of 409 shootings since the [Independent Police Review Authority’s] formation in September 2007 — an average of roughly one a week — only two have led to allegations against an officer being found credible, according to IPRA. Both involved off-duty officers.
Overall, police misconduct, including shootings and other wrongdoing, has cost taxpayers more than $500 million since 2004, according to officials.
The Chicago officers are far from the first to tell stories about police killings that wound up differing drastically from recorded footage of the events. Officers in the shootings of both Tamir Rice and Walter Scott, for instance, presented completely contradictory accounts of the incident.
Sunday’s protests in Chicago are set to begin at 1:30 PM.