Breaking News Emails
While the family of a Chicago man fatally shot by police last year opposed the release of dramatic video showing the incident, their attorney said Wednesday that "now the whole world knows what happened."
There have been protests in Chicago since authorities on Tuesday released dashcam video showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October of 2014. The officer who shot the teen, Jason Van Dyke, is being held on a charge of first-degree murder.
"They’re still in grieving and his mother is in counseling, but she understands that the truth had to come out and she understands that the video will be used in the prosecution of the officer so it’s really kind of a mixed reaction," Jeff Neslund, an attorney for the McDonald family, said on MSNBC.
"We are relieved and thankful that finally charges have been brought against the officer and that the truth is out there, and now the whole world knows what happened to Laquan," Neslund said.
The video shows a young man, later identified as McDonald, walking down the middle of a street as multiple officers draw their weapons. One of the officers appears to fire his weapon, and the man spins and collapses on his right side.
Sixteen shots were fired, officials said. Police have said he was carrying a 3-inch-long knife. Prosecutors said McDonald took the drug PCP that night. Lawyers for Van Dyke have said the shooting was justified because he felt threatened.
"Certainly, Jason did not want to shoot Mr. McDonald. But he felt that he had to because he was brought into this situation, quite frankly by Mr. McDonald," Van Dyke’s attorney, Dan Herbert said in an interview broadcast on MSNBC’s "All In With Chris Hayes" Wednesday.
Herbert said he was not blaming McDonald for his own death. "We’re not going to suggest that his actions necessarily required that he be killed," Herbert said.
He said Van Dyke was responding to a call for help and "things escalated quickly for him and he took action."
Prosecutors have said the video "clearly does not show McDonald advancing" on officers. The video shows McDonald on the ground as shots continued to be fired for about 13 seconds.
Protests Tuesday night were largely peaceful, and more demonstrations were planned Wednesday. Police said they made five arrests. One of those arrested, activist Malcolm London, had charges of aggravated battery on a police officer dropped Wednesday, NBC Chicago reported.
The city agreed in April to settle with McDonald’s family for $5 million, Nelsund said. The video came out during the probate proceedings, but the teen’s mother did not want it made public.
"She did not want to see and has not seen the video of her son’s execution — and what mother would want to see that replayed?" Neslund said.
The video was ordered released after a journalist filed a public records request. The family also was concerned about public outrage after the release of the video.
"Obviously she wants him prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Neslund said. "So she’s again relieved that finally charges have been brought and that’s an important first step."