September 25, 1997
October 20, 2014
Age at Death:
Laquan McDonald was from the 37th Ward of Chicago. According to NBC Chicago news, Mr. McDonald earned $1,100 working after school in the Youth Advocate Program in 2014. His final report card showed that he had earned an A in personal finance and music, a B in world studies and reading, and a C in biology and algebra. One of McDonald's teachers described him as "very respectful and reserved". The teacher added that McDonald "was not aggressive".
Mr. McDonald was killed in Chicago, Illinois, when fatally shot by a Chicago Police Officer. Shortly before 10:00 p.m., police were called to investigate Mr. McDonald, responding to reports that he was carrying a knife and breaking into vehicles. When officers confronted Mr. McDonald, he used a 3 inch knife to slice the tire on a patrol vehicle and damage its windshield. Mr. McDonald walked away from police after numerous verbal instructions from officers to drop the knife, at which point responding officers requested Taser backup, according to radio recordings released 12/30/15, to NBC Chicago. Video of the shooting shows an officer was advancing on Mr. McDonald, while he was walking away from the officer when the first shot was fired. The first shot hit Mr. McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground. As McDonald lay on the ground, still holding the knife, the officer fired more shots into him. In total, the officer fired 16 shots at McDonald in 14–15 seconds, expending the maximum capacity of his 9 mm semi-automatic firearm. The officer was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and began shooting approximately six seconds after exiting his car. The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force, and none of the at least eight other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Mr. McDonald was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m. Toxicology reports revealed Mr. McDonald had PCP in his blood and urine at the time of the encounter with police. A defense expert pharmacologist testified the amount found was enough to suggest he had taken the drug on the day of the shooting and that it could cause "significant bizarre behavior". When a court ordered the police to release a dash cam video of the shooting some thirteen months later, the officer was charged with first-degree murder and initially held without bail at the Cook County Jail. He was released on bail on November 30 and protest ensued. Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed with the US Department of Justice a civil rights investigation into Mr. McDonald's death and the activities of the Chicago Police Department. It released its report in January 2017, describing the police as having a culture of "excessive violence", especially against minority suspects, and of having poor training and supervision.
Was justice served?
No. The DOJ and city officials signed a consent decree for a plan for improvement to be overseen by the courts. Three Chicago police officers were tried for allegedly attempting to cover up events related to the shooting and were acquitted of the charges by the Cook County Circuit Court on January 17, 2019. Noteworthy is the initial police report portrayed Mr. McDonald as threatening police on the scene with the knife, acting erratically, but the video proved this to not be true. Suspicion arose because police video had no audio (as the audio portion of the camera was found to have been intentionally destroyed). The city reached a settlement with McDonald's family. On October 5, 2018, and the arrested officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, as well as 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.