Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, charged with murdering African-American teen Laquan McDonald, has been accused of misconduct 17 times before, according to data from the University of Chicago and the journalism non-profit Invisible Institute, reports the Washington Post. The database, published less than a week before the announcement that Van Dyke would be prosecuted, details tens of thousands of complaints against Chicago police officers that weren't previously made public. Fewer than five percent of the allegations resulted in disciplinary actions for the officers; none of the 18 complaints against Van Dyke led to a penalty.
“We don't have all of Van Dyke's complaints but … the misconduct complaints from Van Dyke that we do have in our data tool show by and large excessive force and racial slurs. And he has largely operated with impunity and under a code of silence with the same huddle of officers again and again,” the Invisible Institute's Alison Flowers told WLS in Chicago. Van Dyke became an officer in 2001 and spent several years on the force's Targeted Response Unit, a city-wide team that aggressively worked in neighborhoods where crime was spiking. That force was disbanded by Superintendent Garry McCarthy in 2011. The allegations against Van Dyke include 10 complaints of excessive force, including two incidents where he allegedly used a firearm, causing injury. He was also accused of improper searches and making racially or ethnically biased remarks. Four of the allegations were proven factual, but Van Dyke's actions were deemed lawful and appropriate. In most of the other cases, there was either not enough evidence to prove or disprove the complaint or the allegation was proven unfounded.