CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge was set to rule Thursday whether the Chicago Police Department must release dashcam video of a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenage suspect last year.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office has filed an opinion that the city has violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act by refusing to release the video.
Police have said 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was under the influence of PCP, and slashing the tires of several cars with a 4-inch folding knife in October 2014, when he refused police officers’ orders to drop the weapon.
Those who have seen the police dashboard video have said it’s shocking and disturbing, and some are extremely concerned about how the public will react to it, fearing it could spark unrest.
Two attorneys for McDonald’s family – Jeff Neslund and Mike Robbins – subpoenaed the video, and have watched it. They have described the shooting as an “execution.”
The video shows McDonald being shot 16 times by a single officer.
“The first shot or two seem to spin him on the ground. He falls down. He’s down on the ground, and for the next 30 seconds or so, in this video, the officer just continues to shoot,” Neslund said earlier this month. “What you see are graphic puffs of smoke rising from Laquan and intermittently his body twitching, in reaction to the shots.”
The city agreed to a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family even before a lawsuit was filed. The officer involved – a 14-year veteran – has been stripped of his police powers, pending a federal investigation of the shooting.
The officer has claimed McDonald lunged at him with the knife, but attorneys who have seen the video said at no point was McDonald seen lunging at anyone.
A Wall Street Journal reporter and the Chicago Tribune have submitted FOIA requests for the video, but the requests have been denied.
The city has said releasing the video would interfere with the investigation, and jeopardize a fair trial.
McDonald’s mother hasn’t seen the video for a reason, and she doesn’t want it shown publicly, because she fears it could spark riots.
A Cook County judge was set to rule on whether the video should be released at a 2 p.m. hearing on Thursday.