Laquan McDonald

Laquan McDonald
Laquan McDonald
Photo credit: Family of Laquan McDonald / ABC News / Wikipedia WP:NFCC#4

Laquan McDonald was a 17-year-old high school student in Chicago, Illinois. On October 20th, 2014, Laquan was killed when a Chicago Police officer fired 16 shots at him while he had his back turned and was walking away. In spite of the officer’s shooting of Laquan initially being judged by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to be justifiable homicide, dash-cam footage released a year later, in November 2015, led to the officer’s arrest and a subsequent charge of first-degree murder.

Police initially reported that Laquan was behaving erratically while walking down the street, refusing to put down a knife he was carrying. However, video footage contradicted officer accounts and reports. Even in Chicago, with its long history of police and governmental corruption, Laquan’s murder struck a nerve. The community rose in protest, demanding changes in police and judicial procedures, and for the dismissal or resignation of city and county officials. The protesters chanted “16 shots and a cover up!”

There was a civil rights investigation into Laquan’s death and the activities of the Chicago Police Department. The investigation report described the police as having a culture of "excessive violence," especially against minority suspects, and of having poor training and supervision. The Department of Justice and city officials signed a consent decree for the implementation of an improvement plan to be overseen by the courts.

Laquan McDonald’s family was offered a $5 million settlement from the Chicago City Council. The police officer was ultimately found guilty on charges of second-degree murder and sentenced to 6.75 years in prison. Three other Chicago police officers were charged with conspiracy in 2017 for attempting to cover up Laquan McDonald’s shooting, but were acquitted in 2019.