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Chicago "on the tipping point" as police get ready to release video of officer shooting black teenager 16 times

Laquan McDonald was shot in October last year.

LaQuan McDonald
LaQuan McDonald

LEADERS IN CHICAGO are pleading for calm as the city’s police prepare to release a video of a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.

A court last week ordered Chicago PD to release the video of the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald last October by this Wednesday, 25 November.

Activists, journalists and attorneys have been pushing for the video’s release for several months, especially after the family’s lawyers obtained the squad car dashcam video and described what they saw: McDonald armed with a small knife and walking away from a group of police officers, and Officer Jason Van Dyke opening fire from about 15 feet and continuing to shoot after the teen fell to the ground.

An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot 16 times, including at least twice in his back. The report also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in McDonald’s system.

Today, Reverend Roosevelt Watkins told CNN that the city could “be just like Ferguson”.

“Chicago is on the tipping point.”

“The video is graphic, disturbing and difficult to watch, as any video of a man being shot to death would be,” Daniel Herbert, the officer’s lawyer, told the Chicago Tribune.

McDonald’s mother did not want the video released out of fear it could lead to protests like ones in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, that sometimes grew violent, according to one of her lawyers, Jeffrey Neslund.

“It is a very graphic video and it is disturbing. It will have a powerful impact,” Neslund said.

Killings by Police-Chicago This undated autopsy diagram provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office shows the location of wounds on the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot by a Chicago Police officer. Source: Apexchange

Craig Futterman, an attorney for freelance journalist Brandon Smith – whose Freedom of Information Act requests have led to the release of the video -, said while the video will certainly anger people, the Police Department’s fight to keep the video from public view will upset them more.

The Chicago City Council took the unusual step in April of approving a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, even though the family hadn’t filed a lawsuit, after being advised to do so by a city solicitor who had seen the video.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office issued a statement saying they would not appeal the ruling.

“Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law, and to provide safety to our residents,” the statement said.

“In this case unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level.”

Emanuel will meet with activists ahead of the video’s release.

Read: Police search for killers who executed nine-year-old

Read: WATCH: US police use stun gun on black man outside hospital, an hour before his death

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