Updated 11/24/15 – 9:49 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago police officer has been ordered held without bail, charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. said he would not allow Officer Jason Van Dyke held to go free on bond until he’s seen dashboard camera video of the shooting. He scheduled another hearing for Van Dyke for Monday, and said prosecutors should have the video in court at that time.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, McDonald’s family thanked supporters for their “outpouring of love and support for Laquan,” and asked for peaceful demonstrations once video of the shooting is made public.
“This is a difficult time for us. As we have said in the past, while we would prefer that the video not be released we understand that a court has ordered otherwise. We ask for calm in Chicago. No one understands the anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful. Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name. Let his legacy be better than that.”
Prosecutors said Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in a span of less than seconds on Oct. 20, 2014. McDonald was carrying a 3-inch blade, and was walking away from Van Dyke when the officer opened fire, according to prosecutors.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Van Dyke’s partner noticed the officer preparing to reload his gun after shooting McDonald, and heard McDonald struggling to breathe as he laid on the ground, so he told Van Dyke to hold his fire so he could kick McDonald’s knife away.
Alvarez said Van Dyke was on the scene less than 30 seconds before he started shooting, and had been outside of his squad car less than six seconds before he fired the first shot.
She said she has seen the video of the shooting several times.
“It is graphic, it is violent, it is chilling,” she said. “To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing, and I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.”
Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the force, was one of eight officers responding to calls of a suspected thief armed with a knife, but no other officer saw a need to use force that night, prosecutors said.
Alvarez said there also were several civilians who witnessed the shooting, including a motorist stopped on Pulaski Road, who said it appeared McDonald was trying to get away from police at the time.
“The motorist stated that McDonald never moved toward, launched at, or did anything threatening towards the officers before he was shot, and fell to the ground,” Alvarez said. “This witness stated that he heard a pause in the shots after McDonald fell to the ground, but then heard more shots. He also said that he did not see McDonald do anything threatening while lying on the ground that would cause the officer to continue to shoot.”
Alvarez said, based on the witness statements and other evidence, she determined the shooting was not a justified use of deadly force by Van Dyke.
“Clearly, this officer went overboard, and he abused his authority, and I don’t believe the force was necessary,” she said.
Asked why it took more than a year from when McDonald was killed to bring criminal charges, Alvarez said investigating a police shooting is a more complicated matter than investigating a case of one civilian shooting another. Alvarez said investigators and prosecutors must know how the officer was trained in the use of force, the department’s rules and regulations for the use of force, and the perspective of the officer at the time of the shooting.
“At the end of the day, I’d rather take my time and get it right, than rush to judgment and get it wrong. Rushing to judgment simply has no place in a professional investigation of this magnitude, and could only serve to jeopardize justice being done,” Alvarez said.
She also said her office was working in coordination with the FBI and federal prosecutors, and originally planned to wait until all sides had completed their investigation before announcing any charges, but after a civil court judge ordered video of the shooting be released to the public, she wanted to announce charges to provide context for the video.
Van Dyke arrived at the courthouse to turn himself in around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, and was later formally charged with first-degree murder.
After the bond hearing, Van Dyke’s attorney, Dan Herbert, said the officer would be vindicated in court.
“We will be successful on this case. This is not a murder case, despite what you heard in the courtroom. It’s truly not a murder case, and we feel that we’re going to be very successful in defending this case,” he said. “This is a case that can’t be tried in the streets. It can’t be tried in the media. It can’t be tried on Facebook.”