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In Chicago, the release of a video of a police officer shooting a black teenager has stirred racial tensions and launched protests.
A warning to our viewers: Some of what you are about to see may be disturbing.
Last night, the city of Chicago released the video from a police cruiser dashboard camera. Seconds after exiting his vehicle, police officer Jason Van Dyke opens fire on Laquan McDonald. The teenager collapses. Van Dyke continues shooting, emptying his weapon. In all, McDonald was shot 16 times.
Officers had responded to an allegation that McDonald punctured a police car tire with a knife. Yesterday, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. Hundreds of Chicago residents, upset by the video, took to the streets Tuesday night. Although the protests remained peaceful for the most part, demonstrators and police officers clashed in a few incidents, leading to the arrests of five people.
Activists had repeatedly called on the city to make public the video of the incident, which occurred more than a year ago. The city had already paid McDonald's family $5 million at settlement. Still, it took a freedom of information lawsuit and a court order to force authorities to release the video.
Today, members of the city council's Black Caucus criticized authorities for that delay.
RODERICK SAWYER, Alderman, Chicago:
While we know the system has failed, no one can specifically say how. We must value all the children of the city of Chicago, more than just thinking that a quick payout can solve the problem. A clear, transparent process is the only way we can begin to build trust in our communities with law enforcement.
At a news conference last night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel struck a similar tone, and said that the shooting of Laquan McDonald must be an opportunity for the community to heal and come together.
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, Chicago:
We need, as a city, to get to a point where young men in our community and in parts of our city see an officer and don't just see an officer with a uniform and a badge, but they see him as a partner in helping them reach their full potential.
We also have to get to a place in the city where officers who patrol communities in our city see a young man not as a potential problem and a risk, but they also see in — that young man as an individual who is worthy of their protection and their potential.
Details on McDonald and Van Dyke are still coming to light, but here is what we know now.
Laquan McDonald was a 17-year-old African-American. He was removed from his mother's care twice at a young age, and spent most of his life as a ward of the state. Family services twice investigated allegations that McDonald was sexually abused in foster care, but no charges were ever brought. At the time of his death, the autopsy found McDonald had the drug PCP in his system.
Jason Van Dyke is a 37-year-old white police officer. He is married with two teenage children. He served on the Chicago police force for 14 years. During that time, he received 18 citizen complaints, eight of which were claims of excessive force. Van Dyke's lawyer told CNN today that the dashboard camera video is unreliable, and that his client was justified in shooting the teen.
DAN HERBERT, Lawyer for Officer Van Dyke: No matter how clear it is, there are problems with video. And most important, I think, is the fact that video by its nature is two-dimensional. And it distorts images. So, what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear.
Officer Van Dyke is being held without bail. His next court appearance is on Monday.
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