CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Gilliam asserted on Wednesday that Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke did nothing wrong when he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times because the teen continued to move after he was down.
After reviewing recently released dash cam footage of the shooting, Gilliam said that McDonald was within a “lethal area that this person could lunge at you” because he was less than 21 feet away from the officer.
“Just because you shoot a person doesn’t mean they’re going to fall,” the retired Navy SEAL opined, recalling that one insurgent in Iraq had to be shot 13 times before he dropped to the ground.
“But Jonathan, this young man was on the ground,” CNN host Carol Costello pointed out.
“The point is even though he’s on the ground, he never dropped the knife and he continues to move,” Gilliam insisted. “Until the knife leaves his hand, we don’t know if the officers were yelling at him to drop the knife. I’ve seen videos and the reason we have these policies is officers have been killed after they shot somebody with a knife or with a gun.”
Freelance journalist Brandon Smith reminded Gilliam that McDonald “was walking away” from the officers when he was shot.
“He was walking parallel,” Gilliam argued. “It doesn’t matter if he walks past them, if he is in 10 feet, he can turn and lunge and take your life.”
“In this case, tactically, I don’t think he’s in the wrong,” he added. “Because the policies say if an individual is armed and will not drop that lethal weapon, they can use lethal force.”
“I think there’s a lot of other [excessive force] cases that Brandon and others could go after, but I don’t think this is one of those.”
However, many who have seen the video of the shooting have observed that it was the impact of the bullets that moved McDonald’s body after he was down.
“The force of the bullets spins McDonald around. His legs stiffen as he falls backward to the pavement. The teen rolls onto his right side in the middle of the roadway,” the Chicago Tribune reported. “Two clouds of smokelike debris silently puff upward immediately after McDonald falls. His head appears to lift, his arm moves. Then more bullets. Another cloud of white debris kicks up from behind his head.”
Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast Nov. 25, 2015.