CHICAGO — Five years after a Chicago police officer shot and killed Laquan McDonald, the city Inspector General's report has finally been released.
According to the report, the inspector general determined Jason Van Dyke lied during interviews following the shooting.
“Van Dyke’s false reports, false statements and material omissions all served to exaggerate the threat McDonald posed,” it states.
Van Dyke interviewed with a police review board two days after the shooting and claimed McDonald was moving toward him.
“I think he’s going to try to take my life away from me,” Van Dyke stated to IPRA.
Read the following excerpt from the interview:
Van Dyke: He’s getting’, he’s getting’ closer to me. I could see that there’s nobody to my right. There’s nothin’ in front a me. There’s nothin’ to my left. I keep on orderin’‘em to drop the knife, drop the knife, drop the knife. He doesn’t drop the knife. He’s still wavin’ the knife at me. I’m thinkin’ he’s, he’s goin’ do somethin’ to me.
IPRA: And whaddid [sic] you think was he was gonna do?
Van Dyke: I think he’s going to try and take my life away from me.
IPRA: And what happens?
Van Dyke: I shoot 'em.
The inspector general did have access to the dashcam video from the shooting. In the report, it gives a detail count frame-by-frame of what happened.
Page 10 of the IG summary report mentions two Cook County Sheriff's deputies who arrived to the scene after the shooting.
In it, one deputy said CPD officers were standing around McDonald and were not administering aid.
The deputies went up to him, as he was "gasping for his last breathe of air", to try to administer aid. The deputy stated McDonald died in front of them within a minute.
The report states the deputies heard multiple CPD officers tell Van Dyke to "call your union rep." in the aftermath of the shooting.
They remained on scene for about 10 minutes until CPD said they were not needed, according to the report.
During September's City Council meeting, aldermen approved the release of the 2016 report by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
Ferguson’s report was critical of at least 10 officers involved in the McDonald matter and Deputy Chief David McNaughton. McNaughton retired only days before Ferguson’s report was officially delivered.
The initial police report following the shooting cleared officer Jason Van Dyke of any wrongdoing. He was later charged with murder after the dashcam video was released. Van Dyke was convicted, and is currently serving a 6 year and 9 month prison sentence.
Following the IG report release, Laquan McDonald's uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter, applauds Mayor Lightfoot for making good on a campaign promise.
"These words jumped out at me: they believe that Van Dyke lied. They believe the police officers lied," Hunter said.
Author and journalist Jamie Kalven was the catalyst who initially reported the McDonald shooting after being tipped by a source close to the matter.
"This was really not a departure from the norm than it was the norm," Kalven said. This was standard operating procedure."
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police was largely dismissive of the report:
We do not believe that Inspector General Joe Ferguson is a credible authority of who is telling the truth and who isn’t. A shining example of this conviction is the fact that the Inspector General’s office under Ferguson suffered a devastating blow when the criminal charges against three officers connected to the shooting--trumped up by Ferguson’s office in violation of the officers’ constitutional rights--were eviscerated in a trial under the rules of evidence.
Despite their acquittal, three more officers were sacrificed to the media hysteria generated in this case when the Chicago Police Board, a collection of largely biased individuals wholly unsuited to the task before them, ruled to fire them.
The City Council and the Mayor, as well as their bureaucratic henchmen like Joe Ferguson, would do well take up the hard work of governing Chicago, rather than building their political careers on the backs of the hardworking officers who keep them safe.
McDonald's uncle disagrees and believes his murder and all that came after it will be part of a bigger dynamic , comparing him to slain teenager Emmit Till back in 1955.
"The death of Laquan McDonald represents the Emmett Till of the North," Hunter said.
Dan Herbert, Jason Van Dyke's defense attorney, said Van Dyke is doing "pretty good."
"He's doing pretty good. He is just trying to go day-by-day," Herbert said. "He's trying to make sure his family is doing as well as it can. The family is hanging in there and is looking forward to having him come home."
Van Dyke's scheduled release date is Feb. 2022.