As the camera stops moving, McDonald spins and falls to the pavement as he is struck by gunfire. McDonald then lies on the ground, still moving in a semi-fetal position, for another twelve to fifteen seconds. The video lacks audio, making it hard to tell when the shots are being fired at him. Only the small puffs of smoke on his body mark the entry of additional bullets. Sixteen gunshots struck McDonald, according to the coroner’s report.
After about twenty seconds from when McDonald first appears to be struck, an officer walks over to his body and kicks the knife out of his hand. The video continues for another minute as more officers arrive and as McDonald lies on the ground. No attempt to render first aid is shown on the clip.
The video sharply contradicts what police initially claimed about McDonald's death, as shown by a Chicago Tribune article published on October 21, the day after the shooting.
About 9:45 p.m. Monday, Chicago Lawn District officers received a call about a person breaking into cars in the 4100 block of South Karlov, according to a statement from Chicago Police.
Officers found the 17-year-old “with a strange gaze about him” carrying a knife which he refused to drop when police ordered him to do so, Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said.
The teen used the knife to puncture the front passenger-side tire of a squad car and damage its front windshield before leading officers on a foot chase, police said.
Other officers used a squad car to try and box the boy in against a fence near 41st and Pulaski, Camden said. An officer shot him in the chest when he “refused to comply with orders to drop the knife and continued to approach the officers,” police said.
Protesters peacefully took to the streets throughout Chicago on Tuesday night in response to the video’s release. More demonstrations are slated to take place throughout the week.
Prosecutors in Chicago filed first-degree murder charges on Tuesday against a white police officer who fired 16 shots in 15 seconds at a black teenager last year, as the city braces for the public release of footage from the incident.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke on Tuesday for his role in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Van Dyke is the first on-duty Chicago police officer to be charged with first-degree murder in almost 35 years, according to the Chicago Tribune.
City officials resisted legal challenges to release the footage for almost a year. Then, on November 19, a Cook County judge ruled that the city had violated open-records laws and ordered the footage to be made public. Alvarez told reporters during a Tuesday press conference that while she had decided to charge Van Dyke in recent weeks, she felt compelled to file charges ahead of the footage’s release “in the interest of public safety” after the judge’s ruling. She added that the footage was “deeply disturbing” and “would tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.”