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Home » First-Degree Murder » Chicago Police Scandal Gets Worse As Evidence Gets Tampered

Chicago Police Scandal Gets Worse As Evidence Gets Tampered

chicago-shooting-videoAfter a year of refusing to release horrific video footage of a Chicago policeman shooting a seventeen-year-old 16 times without provocation, the state faces public disgust. Not only did Chicago government try to hide the incident, the tragedy was even somewhat endorsed — official records from the date of the shooting lied about what happened in order to cover up a sickening display of how absent police accountability really is.

There are a lot of factors at play, and it looks like more will continue to surface as investigations continue. Here’s 3 of the major points in the unraveling case that could have devastating, and potentially deserved, consequences for Chicago law enforcement:

1. The Race Issue

It doesn’t help that the officer, Jason Van Dyke, was a white man and the victim, Laquan McDonald, was black. Police discrimination of black Americans has been causing outcry from citizens across the nation for several months, and this incident is a gasoline-soaked log thrown in the metaphorical fire of racial tension.

2. The Sixteen Shots

That many bullets is a full clip. This means that Officer Van Dyke literally emptied his gun on a 17-year-old kid.

Did any other officers fire their weapons?


Did McDonald show signs of aggression toward Van Dyke or the other officers?

According to the original account provided by Chicago police, yes: it was self-defense. He lunged at them with a knife.

According to the video footage that the Chicago Police tried very, very hard not to release… no. It doesn’t even look like McDonald saw Van Dyke before he shot him. In 15 seconds he is shot 16 times, even as he writhes on the ground at such a far distance from the cops that they’re out of frame in the video.

Let’s also keep in mind that, aside from kicking a knife out of McDonald’s hand, not a single police officer approached him. Not to check for vitals, not to show respect for a human life, not for any reason. The police dash-cam recording rolls on while McDonald lays in the street: dead, motionless, alone.

It’s a nasty thing to watch a kid get shot 16 times by one of the people who are supposed to be our well-trained, level-headed protectors. But here it is, ripped forcefully from their hands after 12 months of arduous litigation.

What are we supposed to think about that?

3. The Tampered Video

The most recent update in the McDonald murder case comes from Jay Darshane, the manager of the Burger King restaurant where the shooting took place.

His account of the incident involves several Chicago detectives demanding that he give them access to the restaurant’s surveillance recordings. Access was granted and the detectives spent a reported three hours sequestered in the BK office with their technical support experts. What were they doing for three hours? They won’t say much about it other than that they were “handling the footage.”

After the police left Burger King, Darshane discovered that the restaurant’s fully functional surveillance system miraculously didn’t capture any footage from 9:13 to 10:39 p.m. The shooting had happened at 9:50 p.m. Darshane was appalled to realize the obvious connection between police handling Burger King surveillance footage and its convenient disappearance.

The Chicago police department denies Darshane’s allegations of tampering, but nothing else makes sense. Burger King’s cameras and surveillance software were checked earlier that day and were both functioning correctly.

Why would detectives have spent three hours locked in a room if the footage had been erased due to malfunction? How would the critical missing evidence not have immediately prompted them to question Darshane about the missing footage?

The answer lies in the police department’s original report: at the time, they described the shooting as an act of self-defense. Now that we have the police cruiser footage showing the 16 shots, we know that’s not true. But that was the story they were promoting the day it happened. Since their story was a lie, they had to take precautions against any evidence that would reveal their dishonesty.

Protests, Body-Cams, And First-Degree Murder

After the police dash-cam footage showing McDonald’s death was released, a surge of public protests erupted that same week on Black Friday. Chicago’s Magnificant Mile, a strip of high-end shops, was almost completely blocked by citizens who were outraged at the evidence of corruption within Chicago’s law enforcement system.

The public response has prompted Chicago to expand their police body-camera program to 6 more police districts over the course of the next year. They’ve been using the body-cam program since January, but with a decided lack of effort. Since the program started, only 30 cameras have been used of the course of an entire year. And let’s not kid ourselves — if the Chicago government had succeeded in hiding the footage of LaQuan’s shooting from the public (which they almost did), this crucial improvement to the justice system wouldn’t be happening.

One thing that no one’s mad about is Officer Van Dyke’s first-degree murder charges, which were ordered in the days leading up to the dash-cam video’s release. What people are angry about is how long it took the judge to enforce the charges — because based on how the situation was being handled for the past year, it seems more than likely that Van Dyke wouldn’t have faced proper consequences if determined voices outside the government hadn’t forced recognition of justice.

First-Degree Murder Defense And Prosecution

In Tennessee, and pretty much everywhere else, first-degree murder is the most serious type of killing crime. Officer Van Dyke’s crime qualifies as first-degree murder under Tennessee state law based on the fact that his “intent to kill formed before the killing — even if briefly.”

Consequences for first-degree murder are especially severe in states like Tennessee, where capital punishment is recognized. If Officer Van Dyke was facing charges for murder in this state, he could be looking at the death penalty. At the very least, he’d be facing life in prison, with or without parole.

One might ask how a criminal like Van Dyke could possibly defend his actions in the courtroom, which is something that he apparently intends to do. Well, for him to be completely acquitted, he’d have to either prove he was innocent (he can’t), prove lack of intent (how could he?), or take the ole’ insanity route. Considering the evidence, it’s probably impossible for Van Dyke to create a successful complete defense, and doubtful that he’d even be able to get away with a lowered charge.

If you or a loved one is facing allegations of first-degree murder, or has been the victim of such a crime, then you’d better believe that you have the right to a trial. At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our team of attorneys has years of experience working with clients across a wide range of criminal cases. We know the most efficient routes towards providing a satisfactory resolution for any situation — whether your interests lie on the side of defense, or prosecution.

The first consultation is free, so don’t wait to call our offices or go online to set up an appointment with a skilled lawyer who’s ready and waiting to do whatever it takes to get you the justice you deserve.

(615) 259-2660

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