The expected release of a controversial video showing a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting an African-American teen will cast a spotlight on Chicago amid a raging national debate on police use of lethal force against minorities, says the Chicago Tribune. The police dashboard-cam video, expected to be out by Wednesday, allegedly captured the officer firing 16 rounds into Laquan McDonald, 17, many as he lay prone along a stretch of road. The city had opposed the release of the potentially inflammatory video, citing ongoing criminal investigations of officer Jason Van Dyke, but it dropped its opposition after a judge last week ordered that the video be made public by Wednesday.
Torreya Hamilton, a civil rights lawyer who has sued the Chicago Police Department, said the city’s efforts to fight the release reflect a problem with transparency in contrast with some other places. In July, the Texas Department of Public Safety released dash-cam video weeks after an Illinois woman, Sandra Bland, was involved in a controversial traffic stop. Authorities ruled she committed suicide in jail. The same month, the Seattle Police Department released video of an officer shooting a knife-wielding suspect. The department policy since mid-2014 has been to release any “objective” evidence involving a major police-involved incident, said Brian Maxey, the department’s chief operating officer. In Chicago, police said McDonald, who had PCP in his system when he died, was behaving erratically and refusing police commands to drop a 4-inch folding knife. The police union says the officer fired in fear of his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife.