Wednesday 18 September 2019

£1m bond for Chicago police officer charged with murdering black teenager

Protests in Chicago over the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald (AP)
Protests in Chicago over the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald (AP)

A judge has set bond at 1.5 million dollars (£1 million) for a white Chicago police officer charged with murder after a squad car video caught him shooting a black teenager 16 times.

A Cook County judge set the bond for Jason Van Dyke, who has been locked up since November 24 when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The same day, authorities released the dashcam video that shows Laquan - armed with a small knife and walking down a street on the city's south west side - being shot repeatedly by the 37-year-old officer.

A judge had ordered the video released the previous week.

The bond means Van Dyke will need 150,000 dollars (£100,000) to be released. His lawyer says the officer is not a flight risk.

Van Dyke's lawyer last week reassured the judge that Van Dyke has deep ties to the community, lives with his wife and two children in Chicago and does not possess a passport.

In the audio-free video, Laquan can be seen walking down the middle of a four-lane street. He appears to veer away from two officers as they emerge from a vehicle, drawing their guns. One of the officers opens fire from close range, and Laquan spins around and crumples to the ground, while the officer continues to fire.

Van Dyke's lawyer Dan Herbert, maintains that his client feared for his life, acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story. Police have said that Laquan was carrying a knife and a post-mortem examination revealed that he had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system.

Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez said last week that a 3in blade recovered from the scene had been folded into the handle.

Protesters have marched on Chicago's streets since the video's release. The largest and most disruptive protest blocked off part of Michigan Avenue in the shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday, preventing access to big name stores on what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

PA Media

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