Police Abuse

Will Officer's Murder Indictment Prompt Any Changes or Even Introspection in Chicago Police?

More importantly: Was there a cover-up effort and should others face charges?

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McDonald (left) and Van Dyke (right)

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is back in court today to find out whether he'll be offered any sort of bail after being charged with murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, 17.

As we noted just before the holidays, the City of Chicago finally released (after being order to by a judge) dashcam video showing Van Dyke seemingly emptying his gun into McDonald. Though McDonald was holding a knife and turned out to have PCP in his system, the video showed that he was not behaving aggressively toward the police and was trying to move away from them when Van Dyke opened fire.

More information about the case has been released over the holiday weekend:

  • State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said she had decided "weeks ago" she was going to charge Van Dyke but wanted to wait until federal authorities had completed their part of the investigation. And apparently she still wasn't ready (the shooting took place in October 2014) but decided to "move up" the announcement because of the judge ordering the release of the video.
  • The manager of the Burger King adjacent to the location where McDonald was killed has accused police of deleting 86 minutes of surveillance footage from around the time of the shooting. Allegedly the FBI now has possession of the equipment and the surveillance, so he can't prove to the media that the footage is gone. Both the police and Alvarez are denying the video has been altered. He also testified before a grand jury about the missing footage.
  • So if the footage really is missing, is there any possibility that anybody else in the police department will be found culpable of any sort of cover-up efforts? The police initially reported that McDonald "lunged" at officers, a claim contradicted by the video. The video also makes it clear that Van Dyke was the only officer to shoot at McDonald at all even though there were several officers on scene. Protesters spent the holiday complaining about the slow speed of justice and demanding resignations. We don't know how much police officers cooperated with the investigation as yet. Could there be additional charges toward other officers?
  • Van Dyke apparently opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his squad car and had just arrived at the scene. Prosecutors say Van Dyke was actually reloading his gun while McDonald lay unmoving on the pavement (having been shot 16 times) when another officer finally told him to hold his fire. The circumstances sound similar to the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed by an officer while holding a toy gun in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the outrageousness of the incident, two investigators determined that the officer's behavior was reasonable simply because he "perceived" a threat, regardless of whether it actually existed. We can fully expect such a defense to come up in Van Dyke's trial. There are experts who travel to trials around the country arguing that any aggressive behavior by police is justified in situations where they believe they are in danger, even when it's simply not an accurate assessment of the situation. And they win trials.

Meanwhile, jury selection begins today in the first of several trials of six Baltimore Police officers over the death of Freddie Gray, 25, while in police custody. Gray died as a result of a spinal injury while being transported in a police van, possibly a victim of what is known as a "nickel ride," where arrested victims are tossed into the rear of a vehicle without safety restraints and get knocked around violently (and on purpose) by the van's movement. 

NEXT: The 6th Circuit gets away with one

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  1. I’m not sure what could be on the Burger King footage that the cops would want that destroyed. Maybe that’s where they went to fabricate their back story?

    1. Given the length of the video apparently deleted, that’s probably the best bet. It must’ve captured the police officers trying to get their story together.

    2. The cops looted the Burger King after the murder. Mayor Rahm approved.

    3. No matter what it is I have to respect the manager. It takes a lot of guts to even bring up something like this. He could easily find himself, his family and his business being outlawed (old style).

      1. It is Chicago…a place the rest of us Illinoisans would like to be removed from the State.

        1. Peel off Chicago, NYC, and L.A. to form a non-contiguous 51st state.

          And then cede it from the union.

          1. The following refugee crisis would be the worst in our country’s history.

            1. Imagine, affluent businessmen, financiers, and entertainers flooding into the United States to protect their assets.

            2. I doubt that. If they haven’t left already…

          2. No, noooooooo! You’ll only push more of those bastards into Indiana!

        2. Amen. I grew up in O’Fallon, in St. Clair county. We very much could do without Chicago (and East St. Louis, while we’re throwing out the garbage).

          1. I seem to remember a guy going to the Federal Pen having bought 14 of the 16 judges in St. Clair County, back some years ago… Madison County has been a shitehole forever, judicial corruption-wise.

            I think we just have a generally ugh situation here in the “Land of Lincoln”.

          2. As a fellow southern Illinoisan, from belleville, who now lives in Ofallon I can only say too true. Those two steaming piles of manure, Chicago and the ESTL area, drag down the whole rest of the state. Hell, Alorton is possibly the most corrupt city in the world at this point, with every level of the city’s government being involved in the operation of a criminal narco-state, jury tampering, vote fraud etc.

      2. He better hope his store doesn’t get robbed. Because the cops will take their sweet time in getting there. That is if they respond at all.

        1. Better also hope his store doesn’t just get robbed raided by the cops. Might be some drug dealing or prostitution going on out back or on the DL…

        2. There have been reports of the Hamburglar hanging out there. Sheltering a wanted criminal can end badly.

    4. Cops shoot McDonald outside of a Burger King?

      *rubs chin, not sure where to go from here*

        1. Taco Hell. Plainly Taco Hell.

    5. They did not expect the dash cam footage to be released, so they needed to get rid of all other video too.

      1. But the cameras apparently weren’t pointed at the crime scene, so it wouldn’t have shown the murder.

        1. Maybe it showed the dead guy walking towards the area, or the cop car arriving, or anything else related to the shooting. It’s easier to believe it showed something the cops didn’t like than that it wasn’t working in that 18^W86 minute window.

          1. Maybe it showed the dead guy walking towards the area

            If that was the case, maybe the shooting was justified.

            1. “The survival command center at the Pentagon has disclosed that a ghoul can be killed by a shot in the head or a heavy blow to the skull.”

              16 shots fired mostly into limbs would still be a criminal waste of ammunition.

          2. I doubt it was a legit malfunction. I just wonder what it could have possibly shown.

            1. Him walking normally, sans knife, and presenting no basis for stopping him, perhaps.

  2. You know what they say about news headlines with a question in them? That the answer is always “No”?

    Yeah, it’s still true here.

    So if the footage really is missing, is there any possibility that anybody else in the police department will be found culpable of any sort of cover-up efforts?

    In a just world, every police officer involved in the cover up would be facing obstruction of justice and accessory-after-the-fact charges. We don’t, however, live in a just world. We’ll be lucky if those cops get a written reprimand.

    1. We’ll be lucky if those cops get a written reprimand.

      For getting caught.

      1. If you get caught, you’re obviously not following your training and SOPs. Of course then you’d need some (paid) administrative leave to think about what you did and then some (cushy) extra training (on overtime).

    2. if you straight up summarily incarcerated every single member of the Chicago Police, you will have still committed fewer civil rights violations than the Chicago Police do on an annual basis

      1. Isn’t membership of the Chicago PD probable cause or something.

  3. Officer Mc Fuckshoot sure looks a lot like PJ O’Rourke.

    1. Jay Cutler, as well. Which is funny.

      1. Because he actually hit what he was aiming for?

        1. Never change, Jay. You’re a great drinking game.

        2. +1 insulin shot

          *although I don’t actually see the Jay Cutler in him*

    2. If PJ O’Rourke had a little brother who was missing a few dozen IQ points and a soul.

      1. From that shot, it sure looks as though nobody is home.

        1. His Union Rep hasn’t called him back yet.

      2. Take on O’Rourke and shake in a liberal helping of steroids…

  4. Trials of police officers are unique situations in which both the prosecution and defense work to get the defendant acquitted.

  5. Has all this been hard on the cop’s family? I mean, this is key to the story.

  6. (preliminary disclaimer: It looks bad for the cop, especially if he took part in an attempted cover-up)

    “Will Officer’s Murder Indictment [etc]”

    I looked this up a few days ago, and I don’t think he’s been indicted.

    It’s my understanding that the prosecution filed a Complaint for Preliminary Examination, triggering a probable-cause hearing before a judge. No grand jury would be involved. The prosecution, though, would have the option of seeking a grand jury indictment if the judge fails to find probable cause.

    So the prosecution is entitled to two bites at the apple.

    It would be one thing to simply abolish grand juries in favor of probable cause hearings. I mean, grand juries are so non-modern, etc. The Supreme Court said in the 19th century that the states don’t need to use grand juries, and though the Supreme’s reasoning sucks and their precedent might get challenged later. I mean, the 14th Amendment protects the “privileges and immunities” of American citizens, and as Justice Thomas and others have pointed out, the framers of the Amendment thought this meant the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights.

    But never mind all that.

    In Illinois, the prosecution can simply switch from one method to another until the defendant is brought to trial.

    And rhey prefer probable-cause hearings to grand juries. Funny thing – I thought grand juries would indict a BLT sandwich? That would seem to make them ideal vehicles for the prosecution.

    1. A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich, but it can’t indict the pig from whence it came.

      1. The problem is that prosecutors have variable standards of accusing cops.

        Normally they won’t prosecute cops, but sometimes there’s a case which gets on Youtube and generates lots of public pressure. Then the prosecutors make up for lost time by throwing every charge they have at the cop.

        And if the charges happen to be a bit exaggerated (eg, Darren Wilson), then both the cops and the activists benefit.

        The cops can say, “see? All charges against cops are BS, just like the charges against Wilson!”

        And activists get to say that this shows the racism inherent in the system.

        1. Or they do like McCulloch or the woodchipper-worthy shitbag in the Jon Crawford murder and present a case to the grand jury intended to produce a No True Bill to cover their ass.

    2. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger…”

      /5th Amendment

      1. I’m puzzling over why this part of the 5th Amendment is less important and relevant than the part which says, “nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

        In fact, until the 60s the Supreme Court didn’t require the states to protect the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. They said it wasn’t necessary in a regime of “ordered liberty.” Then in the 60s they decided it *was* necessary.

        Shouldn’t constitutional rights have greater security than what the judges had for breakfast on a particular day?

        1. Yeah, I’m not sure why they decided that the grand jury part only applies to federal prosecutions, but the rest applies to states.

        2. Are you nuts? Have you no compassion for those staunch public servants and their need for morning sustenance?

          Imagine the strain of having absolute immunity on an empty stomach!

  7. In another article I read, the cops did not interview a single witness. Nope. They sent them all away. Then again, what do cops want witnesses for? They might contradict the cops’ lies.

    1. That is what the Chicago Tribune reported today.

  8. Protesters spent the holiday complaining about the slow speed of justice and demanding resignations antagonizing shoppers and hemming in department stores.

    1. Because if you have a broad campaign against police abuse, regardless of the victim’s race, and you reach out to moderates of all races, then where will the bullhorn-wielding race-baiters go?

        1. zing

          1. It’s funny because it’s true.

    2. Organized by Jesse Jackson. Color me surprised.

      1. *borrows Swiss’s narrow gaze*

        1. Please be sure to un-narrow it before returning, thx.

    3. #BLM is perhaps the stupidest political movement I can recall. Which is saying something in an era when the Tea Party and Occupy both exist.

    4. #BLM is perhaps the stupidest political movement I can recall. Which is saying something in an era when the Tea Party and Occupy both exist.

  9. The police initially reported that McDonald “lunged” at officers, a claim contradicted by the video.

    Police plural? Well, is it a crime for cops to lie on a police report?

    1. It’s the thin blue line, not the dotted blue line, and they’re all on it. When you lunge at an officer you lunge at all officers.

    2. Well, is it a crime for cops to lie on a police report?

      Show me a police report and I’ll show you a hodge podge of lies by exaggeration, omission, and fabrication, with a sprinkle of truth on top.

      1. with a sprinkle of truth on top.

        But you exaggerate.

        1. All good lies contain a bit of truth. That’s what makes them believable.

          1. I thought it was what made them funny.

    3. Well, is it a crime for cops to lie on a police report?

      Precedent indicates that when the Officer’s stated perceptions differ with reality, reality must be wrong.

  10. The circumstances sound similar to the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed by an officer while holding a toy gun in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the outrageousness of the incident, two investigators determined that the officer’s behavior was reasonable simply because he “perceived” a threat, regardless of whether it actually existed.

    And in that case the investigators can at least point to the fact the 12-year-old had a toy gun that looked like a “real” gun even if one wants to believe a reasonable person can be fooled by a toy. But in the case of McDonald the video is clear in that it shows the guy is NOT carrying a gun or anything resembling a gun and that he was already in the ground, neutralized as a threat, while van Dyke unloads his full clip on him.

    I guess that proves police officers see threats everywhere. If that’s the case, shouldn’t investigators question the officers’ mental sanity?

    1. I generally perceive police officers as a threat to my freedom and safety. So can I shoot them on sight? (purely hypothetical, I would never think of doing such a thing because I’m not a pussy-assed bitch cop).

      1. Re: Zeb,

        I generally perceive police officers as a threat to my freedom and safety. So can I shoot them on sight?

        Exactly. I am not convinced at all that a police officer is justified in shooting someone because he or she feels “threatened”. I would ask the person forwarding that claim to show in a cogent matter that the officer is not deranged.

        1. In a cogent manner, not matter.

    2. I guess that proves police officers see threats everywhere. If that’s the case, shouldn’t investigators question the officers’ mental sanity?

      They are trained to see threats everywhere. They must always be prepared to react with deadly force at any moment because there is a war on cops, and they are the target. Everyone except other cops is a potential deadly threat. Everyone. Infants and old people alike. And they must be ready to kill without any thoughts slowing them down.

      But most importantly, they are taught that the entire police organization and the courts will do everything to justify their actions, no matter how unjustifiable they are.

    3. Rice’s killer never saw a gun. He didn’t react to anything Rice did. He came out of the car shooting.

    1. Indict and convict are 2 different things. Show me where cops are being convicted on murder charges? A show trial to temporarily appease the peasants, sure. Convictions? Not a chance.

      1. Baby steps! Or in this case, inchworm steps.

    2. I found a lot to like as a libertarian when I visited NM.

      1. It’s no surprise that Gary Johnson was governor there.

        It’s a typcal low-income flyover state which tends to keep the government in check.

        The state differs widely between northern and southern halfs. But generally it seemed that government kept its hands out of your pants and your garbage cans. I haven’t lived there in a long time, so I don’t know if it’s changed much- when I lived there there was a hunting rifle in the back window of every pickup.

        1. My friend who lives there was lamenting the fact that there’s no annual safety inspection for cars. I was thinking “sounds great!”.

          1. Inspection is mostly just a tax anyway.

          2. She laments more poor people being allowed to drive their cars? You have a lot more to fear from drunk drivers and witless life-long residents trying to negotiate mild rainfall.

            1. I’ve given up pointing out cognitive dissonances to progressives. This same friend’s very liberal parents were trying to fight a planned construction of Section 8 housing near (not in – near) their subdivision in Vermont.

              1. If we could just make minimum wage high enough, we wouldn’t need section 8 housing and everyone could live in detached houses in nice subdivisions.

                1. Uh, memo, Zeb, you didn’t read it. Detached housing is a tool of the Kochs. We’re supposed to live in multi-family housing in walkable neighborhoods.

            2. You have a lot more to fear from drunk drivers and witless life-long residents trying to negotiate mild rainfall.

              If i remember right, they’ve closed the door through liquor stores. But they still haven’t figured out that Easter runs downhill, not wherever they decide to put the gutters.

  11. The answer is no and no. Nothing is going to happen to the cop that’s worse than a paid vacation. The court system that has to convict him and sentence him to prison are the same people as the cops, they’re all part of the same team. Why don’t people understand this?

    The murder trial for the cops that killed Freddie Gray in Baltimore is starting now and everyone here already know what happens next. All the cops will be acquitted and there will be more riots. After a while, everything will be back to normal and nothing will change.

  12. What nobody seems to have mentioned is that, if other officers attempted to conceal the fact that the shooting was murder, that makes them accessories after the fact. Under Illinois law, an accessory after the fact to a felony is subject to the same penalty as the felon.

    And it may not just be officers. If the Mayor, having seen the video, deliberately tried to keep it secret in order to keep the policeman from being charged, he too is an accessory after the fact.

    The chance that any of them will be charged is very close to zero. One of the problems with criminal law is that prosecution is by the state, which means that someone who commits a crime the state approves of may never get charged. Forty some years ago, a group of Chicago police officers came to the door of an apartment full of sleeping Black Panthers and opened fire, killing two men. It was a pretty clear case of first degree murder?no evidence was ever offered to support the police claim that the Panthers had fired first?but none of the police officers was ever charged with any crime. The city, county and state did, however, pay a substantial amount to settle civil charges.

    1. The city, county and state did, however, pay a substantial amount to settle civil charges.

      The sad part is that is what government and the professional victims’ organizations consider “justice”.

      Only when hush money is no longer considered “justice” will the War On Cops actually begin.

      1. Absolutely keep the spigot on, just change the source: police pension funds and operating budgets, for example.

    2. And it may not just be officers. If the Mayor, having seen the video, deliberately tried to keep it secret in order to keep the policeman from being charged, he too is an accessory after the fact.

      Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here. We still have to get the charges for the one officer to stick– charges which were, in my opinion purposefully too severe so as to not get a conviction.

      1. Akin to the case of the cop who got a directed-verdict acquittal because the judge decided his deliberately firing into a crowd wasn’t reckless?

  13. Van Dyke apparently opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his squad car and had just arrived at the scene. Prosecutors say Van Dyke was actually reloading his gun while McDonald lay unmoving on the pavement (having been shot 16 times) when another officer finally told him to hold his fire.

    But remember: only police officers should have guns. Because training!

  14. As always, where are the so-called good cops holding their brethren to account? They should be, at a minimum, terminating the officers involved, ensuring that they never work in law enforcement again, and abandoning these guys to the system. Instead, it is silence and support.

    1. They will be packing the courtroom in order to intimidate any witnesses they bother to dredge up.

      1. If this is at 26th and Cal – no room in there for the blue to pack it. And the jury pool is not going to be ….favorable to the cops. I hold out slender hope.

        1. Any trial will be a bench trial.

    2. There are no good cops. There are only criminals and accomplices.

      1. There are a few good cops. History, however, shows how they’re treated. Spoiler: It isn’t good.

        1. Serpico’s problem was that he didn’t bleed fast enough. Not to mention civilian interference.

    3. I have observed that it is human nature to support those who are “on your side.” Football fans will defend a guy throwing iceballs at the field as long as he’s wearing the right color. It takes genuine integrity and courage to stand out against this even though it is very clearly wrong.

      With police it’s even worse than with football fans. At least the fans have limited ability to do you harm, the police have peer pressure, group think, physical intimidation, career damage as well as the ability to create a criminal record for you. I understand that it would be exceptionally difficult even for an especially brave and honest cop to hold his brethren accountable. That doesn’t forgive the lack of doing so in the face of a crime, but it’s easy to see how an otherwise good person can get caught up.

      1. I call it “team politics” and it was seeing the similarity between fan discussion boards and political forums that prompted it.

  15. Once again kids, this is how it works when a COP shoots a black person and is charged with Murder:

    1. Plead Not Guilty
    2. Have the PBA pay then entire Legal Defense of the Cop
    3. The District Attorney and Attorney General of the State will behave as if they were the Cops defense lawyer and present the evidence as he is innocent.
    4. The District Attorney and Attorney General of the State will will offer immunity to other officers to testify in the Cop’s innocence.
    5. The Cop will WAIVE IS RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL so that another cop (called a Judge) can find him innocent.
    6. In the unusual event that the Cop doesn’t WAIVE is right to a trial by JURY, the venue will be changed to the WHITEST Venue possible.
    7. Someone in that JURY will hang or ALL will find not-guilty.
    8. When the JURY Hangs, the DA decides to DROP Charges.
    9. All Along, our Wee Little Piggie is out Free collecting his paycheck and all other benefits courtesy of the tax payer (including the black people trying to convict him).

    1. 5.a Or as has also happened in Chicago find him not guilty of the crime he was charged with because he was guilty of a more serious offence, but since he wasn’t charged with the more serious offense, he walks.

      1. More likely he gets over-charged. As in First Degree Murder. Which of course he isn’t guilty of so no jury or judge could possibly convict. This provides the offender immunity from all other criminal prosecutions of the case due to double jeopardy. It also provides a certain amount of insulation against findings of guilt in a civil trial.

        1. You didn’t read the link.

          1. In fact I did. I was offering a scenario that I as an individual find more plausible in this case.

  16. They all eat off the smae plate, it will end up swept under the rug as it always does.

    http://www.GoneAnon.tk

  17. Based on testimony of “the other guy” in the back of the van with Freddie Gray, I predict Baltimore PD will easily defeat the claim Gray died in result of a “nickel ride”. I don’t know what DID cause him to die…. but from that report it likely was not from an unusually rough ride in the paddy wagon.

    1. The recanted statement?

  18. Why isn’t the picture of the Laquan one with him deranged, holding a knife instead of some bogus graduation cap and gown.

    1. Why isn’t the picture of the cop one showing him with a crazed blood lost in his eyes?

    2. Excellent point.

      Narrative collapse in 3, 2, 1…

  19. Why should the politicians in Chicago and Illinois change anything when they don’t have to and they know they’ll still get re-elected? The saddest part of this entire thing is that the Blacks in Chicago will still reliably vote Democratic in the next election and every one that follows. That has more to do with why reform never comes than anything else.

  20. Gang Bangers, recidivist criminal offenders, illegal alien drug dealers reek havoc daily in every city and town in our Republic but let one cop ‘lose it’ and the world comes crashing down. Really?
    I’m not defending the indefensible, he should not have done it, but we should be at least as severe on the maggots of our society.

    1. I know. All those empty prisons we have, and only a few, poor cops in ’em!

  21. The source that he had a knife and was on PCP is the same police department/government apparatchiks who lied about his lunging at the officers.

    I don’t see any reason to believe them.

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  23. I doubt seriously if the officer will be convicted. The young man was hopped up on PCP, was waving a knife and yelling threats. He was a danger to the public even if he was walking away from the police. One shot or sixteen makes no difference. The question is was lethal force justified. There is reasonable doubt either way.

  24. I doubt seriously if the officer will be convicted. The young man was hopped up on PCP, was waving a knife and yelling threats. He was a danger to the public even if he was walking away from the police. One shot or sixteen makes no difference. The question is was lethal force justified. There is reasonable doubt either way.

    1. You’re a moron. A single shot to the leg in that kind of instance, at night, with zero risk to bystanders, is more than sufficient.

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  26. “The circumstances sound similar to the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed by an officer while holding a toy gun in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the outrageousness of the incident, two investigators determined that the officer’s behavior was reasonable simply because he “perceived” a threat, regardless of whether it actually existed.”

    Madness. When there is no ‘reasonable person’ test in these cases, justice is impossible to achieve.

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