Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, and every second of that fatal shooting was recorded by a police car dashboard camera in the middle of a Chicago street.
That video has been broadcast countless times, showing every twitch of the body and what appear to be puffs rising from McDonald’s body as bullets strike.
It’s gruesome, but it shows exactly what happened. The video is compelling evidence to disprove early police accounts that McDonald, who was black, was walking toward police with a knife in his hand and menacing police.
The video indicates that McDonald was walking away from police when Van Dyke, who is white, opened fire with a barrage that caused McDonald to twirl around, drop on his backside and roll to his right. Van Dyke kept shooting as McDonald lay in the street Oct. 20, 2014.
An autopsy confirmed that McDonald was shot 16 times. Van Dyke was indicted on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
Police misconduct in shooting deaths in the United States is a major story propelled by television, a visual medium.
The use of phone video or dashboard cameras are recent developments that make it possible to show what happened, rather than rely on police or witness accounts. Technology is playing a bigger role in proving guilt or innocence.
But how many times is it necessary to show McDonald striding toward police, then falling to the ground as Van Dyke shoots him? Sometimes the whole scene is broadcast, sometimes it is edited so that it shows McDonald walking toward police.