Jason Van Dyke, the white Chicago police officer charged last month in the death of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, has been formally indicted on seven counts related to the fatal October 2014 shooting.
A grand jury decided on Tuesday to charge Officer Van Dyke, 37, with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
The Chicago Tribune published the indictment to its website on Wednesday evening and said the grand jury had agreed to bring the new charges against the police officer on Tuesday after hearing testimony from an FBI agent.
Prosecutors had charged the cop last month with a single count of first-degree murder related to the altercation that led to the death of Laquan, 17.
The October 2014 incident had been under review for more than a year before Officer Van Dyke was initially charged last month, hours before the Chicago Police Department reluctantly released video footage taken by a police cruiser dash camera that captured the shooting.
Attorneys for the McDonald family said the video depicts Officer Van Dyke firing 16 shots at Laquan as the teen backed away from the officer. The latest indictment accuses the cop of killing Laquan “without lawful justification” while being aware his actions “created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm; the misconduct charge alleges Officer Van Dyke acted outside of his official capacity as an officer of the law.
“The first shot or two seem to spin him on the ground. He falls down. He’s down on the ground, and for the next 30 seconds or so, in this video, the officer just continues to shoot,” Jeff Neslund, an attorney for the McDonald family, said previously. “What you see are graphic puffs of smoke rising from Laquan and intermittently his body twitching, in reaction to the shots.”
Officer Van Dyke has been free on bail after posting $1.5 million shortly after the initial charge was brought, and he is expected back in court on Friday to plead not guilty to the seven-count indictment, local media reported.
Garry McCarthy, the former police commissioner of Chicago, was removed from his job in the wake of the video’s release amid complaints that the city took too long to conduct its probe. The Justice Department said it plans to investigation allegations of misconduct concerning the Chicago Police Department’s policies in the wake of the fallout from the video’s release, and protesters have called for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State Attorney Anita Alvarez to be taken from office as well.
Officer Van Dyke is the first CPD officer to be charged with first-degree murder with respect to an on-the-job fatality in nearly 35 years, the Tribune reported.