The mayor of Chicago has publicly appealed for calm after the city released video footage that showed a white police officer shooting dead a black teenager.
The video shows the 17-year-old walking away from officers, being shot and falling to the ground. The footage then shows his body moving as the officer continues to shoot him. The footage has no audio but it captures the puffs of smoke from the officer's weapon.
“It is fine to be passionate but it essential to remain peaceful,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Tuesday evening as city officials made public the video, which was taken by a police patrol car’s dashboard camera.
“It is now the time to come together as one city, show respect for one another.”
The video, which prosecutors had warned in advance was graphic, violent and chilling, relates to the killing of seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014 by officer Jason Van Dyke.
Earlier on Tuesday, Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder and was remanded into custody.
Prosecutor Anita Alvarez said of the video: “It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling. To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing. I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.”
City leaders and community leaders appealed for calm in advance of the release of the video, anxious to avoid the the kinds of scenes witnessed in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore, after peaceful protests turned violent after the death of black suspects at the hands of police. On Tuesday evening, small groups of demonstrators began peaceful protests, demanding an overhaul of the city's police department.
Officials released six minutes and 54 seconds of footage showing the teenager, carrying a small knife, walking down the middle of the street where several armed police officers were waiting with their vehicles. The young man seems to deliberately move away from the police officers. The footage shows the young man then being shot, spinning on the spot. falling to the floor and then the officer continuing to shoot into the teenager's body. He was struck by 16 bullets, according to a post-mortem examination.
Activists said that while they urged protesters to remain peaceful, the shooting of the teenager and the history of the Chicago Police Department merited a “forceful response”.
“There is a long sordid history,” Cornell William Brooks, of the NAACP told CNN.
The release of the video of the shooting of the teenager comes at a time of heightened nationwide scrutiny of police use of lethal force against members of the Black and Latino communities,
The city has already reached a settlement with the young man’s family, agreeing in April to pay $5m, even though the family had not filed a lawsuit.
From 2008 to 2014 Chicago had an average of 50 fatal and non-fatal police shootings a year, more than bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles. Almost all of the Chicago shootings were found to be justified.
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