Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke walked into a courthouse today to face first-degree murder charges in the fatal shooting of African-American teen Laquan McDonald more than a year ago. the Chicago Tribune reports. Van Dyke is shown on a dash-cam video jumping out of his squad car and within seconds unloading 16 rounds into 17-year-old McDonald. After the first few shots knocked McDonald to the ground, Van Dyke fired another volley that struck the teen repeatedly as his body lay in almost a fetal position on the ground, says the victim’s family lawyers.
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 has maintained the officer fired in fear of his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife. Van Dyke, 37, has been on paid desk duty since the October 2014 incident. The case marks the first time a Chicago officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in nearly 35 years. Van Dyke would face a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted. The charges come less than a week after a judge ordered the release of the video, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel had long sought to keep out of public view.