Is 16 shots really justifiable?

Andrea Gory, Staff Writer

On Oct. 20th, 2014, 17-year-old Laquan Mcdonald was shot and killed by Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke.

The minor was shot 16 times in places ranging from the scalp to chest and arms to legs. After the first few fired into the young man, he fell to the ground as Van Dyke proceeded to empty his pistol and have another clip at the ready for more shots.

While evidence is being heard on this case about whether or not 16 bullets is justifiable in the defense that Van Dyke’s life was at stake and he had felt endangered, it took 13 months before Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder.

McDonald had allegedly been carrying a knife with a 3-inch blade in his hands at the time of the shooting and reportedly had also been intoxicated by Phencyclidine (PCP), resulting in odd and erratic behavior, as well as most likely violent actions. He was also allegedly slashing tires and stealing radios at a nearby truck yard.

The court took 13 months to carefully review the dashcam recording of the incident. The video does show McDonald walking away from the cops in the middle of the street, but the officers involved disagree. The defense is making the argument that McDonald had “lunged” at them with the weapon.

As the McDonald family is going through court hearings over this situation, Chicago’s City Council gave the McDonald family a $5 million dollar settlement shortly after the shooting.  The intention of the City Council is certainly questionable and have made people wonder if the City Council’s intentions were to keep the McDonald family quiet.

The real question at the heart of this case is why this took 400 days. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Police Chief, Garry McCarthy had seen the video before it had been released to the public but did not deem it worthy for public access.

Another question being asked in Chicago during protests is why the cop who had allegedly 20 different complaints filed against him not been fired or dealt with sooner as he had gotten away with murder for 400 days. The CPD had kept this under the rug and they still let an officer out on duty while he had obtained these multiple complaints.  Reports have indicated that a majority of them were excessive violence and even one was the use of a racial slur while on duty.

Reports came from civilians, according to the Citizens Police Data Project, a database for a collaboration of complaints against CPD officers. The database coincides with the Institute and University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. The Chicago Police Department had nothing to say on this.

Van Dyke turned himself in the morning before the video was made public by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez because Van Dyke had realized that his mistake would cost him both socially and legally.

As most people continue to state that McDonald had put himself into the violent situation, I for one think that no matter what situation he was in, the fact that Van Dyke had overused his power in this situation can not be ignored. 16 shots is not justifiable in any circumstance even if you fear your life is threatened.

With Mayor Emanuel covering this case up for 13 months I believe that the city as a whole had been lied to and deceived. While I do see why this cover up was made, to try to get arrests settled and get other legal issues put away, I believe that keeping such a huge social issue away from the public is unheard of. Police brutality is singlehandedly the issue that is pressing up to the surface in the news recently. The police force is supposed to carry out the law and to serve and protect not make unjustifiable decisions to end someone’s life.

While in Chicago and watching recent news, there are protests and riots taking place and they will continue until people are educated on the issue of police brutality.

Now is the time to take action on police brutality and stop the crimes between the police force and the common public.  This means of action is inhumane and appalling and we should expect better from those who are supposed to serve and protect.