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Chicago protests expected over police shooting of black teen

25 November 2015, 21:32

Chicago - Chicago braced for more protests Wednesday after the release of a video showing a white police officer shooting a black teen 16 times, even after the boy had crumpled to the ground.

Hundreds of demonstrators streamed through the streets late Tuesday in the latest burst of anger over what has become one of America's most sensitive issues, violence against blacks, often young black men, at the hands of police. Officials have pleaded with the public for restraint.

Also read: Man convicted of rape, murder in Alabama set to be executed

The police officer in the Chicago shooting, Jason Van Dyke, has been charged with murder and jailed. Authorities took more than a year to charge him, and to make the video public.

The dashboard-camera video shows 17-year-old Laquan McDonald jogging on a four-lane street where police vehicles are stopped. He appears to pull up his pants and then slows to a brisk walk, veering away from two officers who are emerging from a vehicle and drawing their guns.

Almost immediately, one of the officers appears to fire from close range. McDonald spins around and collapses.

The car with the camera continues to roll forward until the officers are out of the frame. Then McDonald can be seen lying on the ground, moving occasionally. At least two small puffs of smoke are seen coming off his body as the officer continues firing.

In the final moments, an officer kicks something out of McDonald's hands.

Police have said the teen had a knife. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday that a knife with its blade folded into the handle was recovered from the scene. At the time of McDonald's death, police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.

An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot at least twice in his back and PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in his system.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the city's residents will "have to make an important judgment about our city and ourselves and go forward." Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he hoped to see "massive" but peaceful demonstrations.

Protest groups are expected to stage more demonstrations in the days ahead, including one at City Hall scheduled for Wednesday and another seeking to block the main city's shopping thoroughfare, Michigan Avenue, during Friday's post-Thanksgiving holiday spending bonanza.

At least one person was detained in Tuesday night's protests, which saw some people throwing plastic water bottles at police officers and others briefly blocking an expressway.

Before the release of the video, city officials spent months arguing that the footage could not be made public until the conclusion of several investigations. After a judge's order, the investigations were quickly wrapped up and a charge announced.

Van Dyke's attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains his client feared for his life and acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story. He said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and "can't be tried in the streets, can't be tried on social media and can't be tried on Facebook."

Months after McDonald's death, the city agreed to a $5 million settlement with his family, even before relatives filed a lawsuit.

- AP


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