A white Chicago policeman was charged with murder on Tuesday in the October 2014 shooting of a black teenager, a day before the planned release of a video taken by a police vehicle’s dashboard camera showing the young man was shot 16 times.
A state prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, said in a statement that the officer, Jason Van Dyke, was being processed at Chicago’s main criminal courthouse and would appear at a bond hearing at noon CST (1:00 p.m. ET).
Last week, a Cook County judge ordered the release of the dashcam video showing the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and Chicago authorities said they would make it public on Wednesday. The city has already paid McDonald’s family a $5 million civil settlement even though they did not file a lawsuit.
The police union has opposed the release of the video, saying it will taint a potential jury. The city of Chicago said it decided not to appeal the judge’s order because it expected charges would be filed against Van Dyke this week.
Van Dyke has been on administrative duty while state and federal prosecutors investigated the shooting.
Van Dyke has said through his lawyer and the police union that the shooting was justified because he felt under threat from McDonald, who was holding a knife.
McDonald’s death at the hands of police using deadly force was one of several fatalities across the United States that led to protests in cities in the past year and a half and reopened a national debate on race relations.
In Minnesota on Tuesday, police were searching for three white men in the shooting of five people near a Minneapolis police station where demonstrators have gathered for more than a week to protest the shooting of an unarmed black man by officers.
It has been decades since a Chicago police officer has been indicted for fatally shooting someone while on duty, Chicago media reported.
On Monday, community leaders met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who asked them to help prevent violent protests on Wednesday after the video is released.
Chicago police have said McDonald threatened them with a knife and slashed at the tires and windshield of a patrol car. The video shows him moving away from police at the time he was shot, said a lawyer for McDonald’s mother, who has seen the footage.
Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, has a population of 2.7 million, roughly one-third white, one-third black and one-third Hispanic. Over the past seven years, the city’s police have shot and wounded or killed an average of 50 people a year, 80 percent of them black people.
In another effort to head off unrest when the video is released, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said on Tuesday that he was recommending that another officer involved in a fatal shooting, in 2012, be dismissed from his job.
The officer, Dante Servin, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the off-duty shooting death of Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old black woman. The case against Servin was thrown out on a technicality.
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)