Last month, Van Dyke was charged with a single count of first degree murder, as the Chicago Tribune reported. The original charge was announced the same day that the city released the dash cam video of the fatal shooting, which depicted an execution-style, gangland killing of the Black teen. Contrary to the Fraternal Order of Police account of what had transpired–that McDonald charged police officers who feared for their lives–the video showed that Laquan was walking away from the police when Van Dyke singularly shot the Black boy 16 times. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she made the announcement earlier than anticipated out of a concern for “public safety.” Meanwhile, the charge came more than a year after the killing took place, representing the first time in 35 years that an on-duty Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder.
The suspended cop, who was freed on $15 million bail, was formally charged with six counts of first degree murder, as well as a charge of official misconduct, alleging Van Dyke committed murder while acting in his official capacity as a Chicago police officer. As the Tribune noted, it is common for prosecutors to charge defendants with multiple counts for the same killing under various legal theories. The seven charges, with explanations, are as follows:
- MURDER/INTENT TO KILL/INJURE WITH FIREARM: According to the first charge of the grand jury, Officer Van Dyke, without legal justification, intentionally or knowingly shot and killed McDonald while armed with a firearm.
- MURDER/STRONG PROB KILL/INJURE WITH FIREARM: Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald without legal justification and while armed with a firearm, knowing that such an act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Laquan.
- MURDER/INTENT TO KILL/INJURE DISCHARGE FIREARM: The officer, without lawful justification, intentionally or knowingly shot and killed McDonald while armed with a firearm, and during the commission of the offense he personally discharged his firearm.
- MURDER STRONG PROB KILL/INJURE DISCHARGE FIREARM: Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan while armed, knowing that the act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Laquan. During the commission of the offense he personally discharged his weapon.
- MURDER/INTENT TO KILL/INJURE DISCHARGE FIREARM PROXIMATELY: Jason Van Dyke intentionally or knowingly shot and killed McDonald while armed with a firearm, without legal justification. While he committed the offense, he discharged a firearm that proximately caused Laquan’s death.
- MURDER/STRONG PROB KILL/INJURE DISCHARGE FIREARM PROXIMATELY: The police officer unjustifiably shot and killed Laquan McDonald while armed with a firearm, knowing the act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Laquan, and while committing the crime he personally discharged his gun, causing Laquan’s death.
- MISCONDUCT/FORBIDDEN ACT: Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan without lawful justification, and while serving in his official capacity as a public officer, employee or special government agent, knowingly committed an act he knew he was forbidden by law to perform
The murder of Laquan McDonald, the cover up by top city officials and the aftermath of the release of the grisly dash cam footage, is a curse upon the career of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, threatening to end his administration in the early part of his second term. The growing calls by the public for the resignation of Emanuel and Alvarez are palpable, as several officials have been relieved of duty. As CBS Chicago reported, when the mayor visited Urban Prep Charter Academy in Englewood, students repeatedly chanted “16 shots,” a common slogan used by protesters seeking the mayor’s resignation over the McDonald shooting.