A white Chicago policeman was charged on Tuesday with murdering a black teenager, a prosecution that was speeded up in hopes of staving off a fresh burst of the turmoil over race and police use of deadly force that has shaken the United States for more than a year.
A highly anticipated video of the Oct. 20, 2014 shooting was released on Tuesday afternoon in accordance with a court order and a day earlier than expected. The police website became overwhelmed and did not function.
Seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke, who emptied his gun and prepared to reload, prosecutors said. Van Dyke, 37, has said through his lawyer and the police union that the shooting was justified because he felt threatened by McDonald.
“Clearly, this officer went overboard and he abused his authority, and I don’t think use of force was necessary,” top Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez said at a news conference after the hearing.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appealed for calm as the city prepared for possible protests.
“It is fine to be passionate but it essential to remain peaceful,” Emanuel told a news conference to announce the release of the video, which was taken by a police patrol car’s dashboard camera. Emanuel was flanked by a dozen community leaders at the news conference.
At the same news conference, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said police would “facilitate” protests but would not tolerate criminal behavior.
Van Dyke was denied bail at a hearing in Chicago’s main criminal…