A Breach of Public Trust in the Handling of Laquan McDonald’s Death?

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Justice Not Served, Justice was Delayed, Justice was Denied – A Federal Investigation is in order; it is APPROPRIATE and NECESSARY to ferret-out the overall circumstances involving Laquan McDonald’s death. There are just too many questionable aspects regarding this case.


By Juanita Bratcher


No use sugar-coating it, it’s time to call a spade a spade – there are too many questionable aspects regarding the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and Chicagoans, especially Black Chicagoans, have lost confidence in many of those who are/were involved in the Laquan McDonald investigation, and are demanding that they resign or be fired.



Politicians, ministers, and community leaders are defiantly calling for the jobs of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and anyone who engaged in misconduct or in a cover-up in regards to the investigation of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s death.

They’re also calling for a special prosecutor and a federal investigation into the “execution” of McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who pumped 16 bullets in the body of the deceased.



And if any elected or public officials were involved in a cover-up – which many seem to think – they should be exposed and held accountable. The public is entitled to know the overall circumstances involving this case and should not be kept in the dark about what really happened.

Officer Jason Van Dyke killed McDonald on October 20, 2014, yet the city kept the video under wrap for more than a year, and only released it after a judge issued a court order that the video recording be made public. The court order was a welcome change for many Chicagoans inasmuch as city officials had argued for months that it should only be made public after the conclusion of ongoing investigations.

A day before the Judge’s court order date to release the video, which is significantly void of audio, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez held a press conference and announced a charge of first-degree murder against Van Dyke, after having sat on a decision for months. According to her reasoning, investigations into police shootings and misconduct are “massive and labor intensive.” She also said she acted in regards to Mayor Emanuel’s plea that it was in the best interest of the investigation to keep the video away from the public eye.


Although Van Dyke’s attorney Daniel Herbert’s comments were shortcoming at best, at one point he commented that the officer feared for his life and acted lawfully during the incident.

Feared for his life? When eight other police officers were present and reportedly none fired a gun but Van Dyke?


Reports stated that McDonald was down after the first two shots but Van Dyke kept shooting.

However, the video showed McDonald walking away from Van Dyke.

In court, prosecutors said the shooting happened within 15 seconds, and pointed out that McDonald was already on the ground in 13 of those seconds.

What were the other police officers doing or thinking while watching Van Dyke on his shooting spree?

After killing McDonald, Van Dyke was assigned to desk duty (police said that’s standard procedure) and continued to collect a salary, even though he had been stripped of his police powers.

When the video was released, it showed a different version than what police had first said about the incident. Police reported that McDonald lunged at the officer with a knife, that it was self-defense.

In a statement released by the National Bar Association, Benjamin Crump, president of the NBA, said “It is unacceptable that it took over a year to file these charges against Officer Van Dyke. Not only did it take a year to file these charges, but Van Dyke was able to continue in the capacity of a police officer during this delayed investigation.”

Crump said the video that State’s Attorney Alvarez relied on to charge Officer Van Dyke with first-degree murder has been available since day one, asking, “Why did it take so long?”

Crump added: “I believe that had there not been a court order to release the video, Officer Van Dyke would not have been charged.”

Alvarez’s office is handling the Van Dyke case, but Rev. Jesse Jackson and other community and political leaders are calling for a special prosecutor to oversee the case.

Some of the questionable aspects are:

• The police version of the incident conflicted with the video
• A Burger King District manager questioned by the FBI said his establishment was forcefully entered by the Chicago Police Department and after they left 86 minutes of the video had been deleted.
• Why was it little more than a year before charges were brought against Van Dyke, and then only after a court order was issued by a judge?
• Why was the McDonald family given a $5 million settlement without a trial?
• Did Chicago aldermen sign-off on a $5 million settlement without seeing the video or knowing the circumstances involving this case?


At least 20 complaints and two lawsuits were filed against Van Dyke prior to McDonald’s death, most of which had to do with use of excessive force.


In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, it stated that “Something is rotten In Denmark.” And some Chicagoans say “There’s something rotten in Chicago about the McDonald case and when it comes to justice for Blacks.


Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 39 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

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