Wednesday 28 September 2016

Video of teen being shot by policeman is 'unreliable', says lawyer

Doina Chiacu in Chicago

Published 26/11/2015 | 02:30

Laquan McDonald (R) walks on a road before he was shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago
Laquan McDonald (R) walks on a road before he was shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago
Jason Van Dyke

A lawyer for a white Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 murder of a black teenager last night insisted that his client feared for his life and that dashboard camera footage released by police is unreliable because video "distorts images".

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Daniel Herbert, a lawyer for Officer Jason Van Dyke, told CNN his client arrived at the scene 18 minutes after a suspect carrying a knife was reported to have threatened businesses and vandalised police cruisers.

Prosecutors said Van Dyke had been on the scene 30 seconds before he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The Chicago shooting charges follow more than a year of unrest across the United States over police shootings of black men that was sparked after the August 2014 killing of unarmed Michael Brown (18) in Ferguson, Missouri.

The video of the McDonald shooting, shot by a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car and made public on Tuesday under orders from a judge, prompted mostly peaceful street demonstrations in Chicago. Van Dyke, the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades, was charged hours before the video was released.

"The reason my client Jason fired his weapon that evening back in October 2014 is that he truly was in fear for his life as well as the lives of his fellow police officers," Herbert said.

Authorities said McDonald was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he was killed.

Prosecutors said Van Dyke fired the 16 shots within 30 seconds of arriving and just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload.

"When he jumped out of the car, the subject made a motion which put my client in fear that this individual was going to attack him with a knife," Herbert told CNN.

Herbert said the video was not an indicator of his client's guilt.

"Video by its nature is two-dimensional. It distorts images. So what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear," Herbert said.

Appearing earlier on CNN, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said rising violence in big cities makes it hard to be a police officer. However, Bush said, "When they do what appears to have happened here they should be charged as was the case in this case.

"The fact that there was protests but no violence in Chicago is a tribute to the people of Chicago," he added.

Irish Independent

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