Chicago mayor, community leaders to discuss police shooting video

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2015 3:22 PM

By Fiona Ortiz

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was scheduled to meet on Monday with community and religious leaders to prepare them for the release of a disturbing video of an October 2014 fatal police shooting of a black teenager.

The city has until Wednesday to release the video from a police patrol car dashboard camera, on a judicial order stemming from a lawsuit brought by a freelance journalist.

The video shows Laquan McDonald, 17, being shot 16 times on Oct. 20 last year by police officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white. Van Dyke is on administrative duty while prosecutors investigate the shooting.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office said she expects to provide an update this week on the outcome of the investigation. A federal grand jury is also probing the incident.

McDonald's death came at a time of heightened nationwide scrutiny of police use of lethal force, especially against black men. Chicago leaders are trying to avoid the protests over police killings that have rocked a number of U.S. cities in the last year and a half.

Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn confirmed the meeting at 3:30 p.m.

"It will be an open dialogue to discuss the tragedy that took place last October, the actions of the officer that remain under criminal investigation, and the path forward for Chicago," she said.

Media, the police and community leaders urged people to demonstrate peacefully if the video moved them. "Be passionate. Be peaceful," read a weekend editorial in the Chicago Tribune.

The police officer's union opposes release of the video, which will be evidence if Van Dyke is charged with a crime.

"It'll be out there and people will see it dozens and dozens and dozens of times. Then you have to go that same population and select a jury pool. You'll have preconceived opinions and bias," said Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Police have said McDonald had threatened them with a knife and slashed at the tires and windshield of a patrol car. The video shows him moving away from police at the time he was shot, according to a lawyer for McDonald's mother, who has seen the video.

From 2008 to 2014 Chicago had an average of 50 fatal and non-fatal police shootings a year, more than bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles. Almost all of the Chicago shootings were found to be justified.

McDonald's family received a $5 million civil settlement from the City of Chicago, even though they had not filed a lawsuit.

(Editing by Alistair Bell)