Tag Archives: Laquan McDonald

Repair Records Indicate Widespread Dashcam Sabotage Among Chicago Police Officers

Repair records released by the Chicago Police Department show that the audio recording functionality no longer works on 80 percent of the department’s 850 dashcams and another 12 percent no longer have functioning video recording capabilities.

DNAinfo Chicago notes that CPD has attributed this problem “to operator error or in some cases intentional destruction.

The issue first caught investigators’ attention during a probe into the officer-involved, October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for his role in the shooting. In that incident, 3 of the CPD dashcams directed at the scene did not capture any video and none of them captured any audio.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Released, Officer Charged With First Degree Murder]

Officer Van Dyke himself was found to have demonstrated a pattern of behavior in which he repeatedly submitted his dashcam unit for lengthy, time-consuming repairs to what investigators characterized as “intentional damage.

Analysis of department-wide dashcam repair records found that the problem was widespread among officers.

Chicago Police Department officers stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes. They pulled out batteries. Microphone antennas got busted or went missing. And sometimes, dashcam systems didn’t have any microphones at all,” according to DNAinfo Chicago.

Out of 22 officer-involved shooting investigations in the city in 2015, dashcam evidence had only been uploaded by police in 3 of the incidents.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo blamed the dashcam malfunctions on CPD and the City of Chicago and questioned whether investigators have the capability to determine if such a device was disabled intentionally or accidentally. Also, some have blamed the issue on the fact that the warranty contract on the dashcams expired in 2012, and a new maintenance contract was not signed until Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did so in 2014.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder]

New York Magazine is reporting that CPD began to perform weekly audits of dashcam evidence and punishing officers for disabling their cameras in December of 2015.

Interim CPD Superintendent John J. Escalante, who took over after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired previous Superintendent Garry McCarthy last month, started off his reign atop the department by warning officers, “When you get into that car, test the in-car camera and the audio. Make sure it’s working. That’s your responsibility. If the system isn’t working and officers didn’t report it we are going to take disciplinary action.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, “To boil this down, the Police Department will not tolerate officers maliciously destructing equipment. Supt. Escalante sent a very clear message and has held people accountable. And since we took that corrective action, we have seen a more than 70 percent increase in the amount of [dashcam evidence] uploads at the end of each tour … and that is being audited weekly with reports sent to the superintendent.

CPD’s complete dashcam repair logs can be seen below.

In December, Ben Swann raised questions in a CBS 46 Atlanta Reality Check report as to why it took over one year for the Chicago Police Department to bring murder charges against Officer Van Dyke. Watch that report in the video embedded below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dak1BU8Fczs

Under Federal Investigation, Chicago PD Releases Controversial Videos of Officer Conduct

As the Department of Justice launches a civil rights investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department, a series of videos have been released depicting controversial officer conduct.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday that the DoJ was launching the investigation because when “suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest,” and a lack of trust between police and their communities, “makes it more difficult to gain help within investigations, to encourage the victims and the witnesses of crime to speak up and to fulfill the most basic responsibilities of public-safety officials.”

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Released Officer Charged First Degree Murder]

[pull_quote_center]The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the Chicago police department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution of Federal Law. Specifically, we will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago police department’s use of force, including its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force and its accountability mechanisms such as its disciplinary actions and its handling of allegations of misconduct.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder]

The investigation comes weeks after the dashcam video from the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released on Nov. 24. The shooting occurred on Oct. 20, 2014, and the officer involved, Officer Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first degree murder after the video showed him opening fire just six seconds after exiting his patrol car and shooting McDonald 16 times.

The case of Van Dyke was unique due to the fact that it was the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first degree murder.

[RELATED: Lawyers: Alleged “Black Site” In Chicago Detaining And Interrogating Suspects]

The DoJ’s announcement came on the same day prosecutors announced they would not charge the officer who fatally shot 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III on Oct. 12, 2014. Dashcam video of the shooting showed Officer George Hernandez, who was responding to a call of “shots fired,” exit an unmarked police car and chase Johnson on foot, taking four steps before firing several shots.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claimed that Johnson was carrying a gun at the time of the shooting, Johnson’s family attorney Michael Oppenheimer alleged that a gun was planted on Johnson’s body, and claimed that Alvarez had not interviewed any of the officers involved in the incident.

A third video was released, also on Monday, which depicted the events that led up to the death of 38-year-old Philip Coleman in 2012. In the video, which shows the view of a security surveillance camera, Coleman is lying on a cot in a jail cell when six officers enter.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While the video does not have audio, it does show the officers speaking to Coleman briefly, and then surrounding him and shocking him with a taser multiple times. They then drag his limp body out of the cell. Coleman was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement condemning the way Coleman was treated by the officers. “I do not see how the manner in which Mr Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” he said. “Something is wrong here – either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”

Chicago’s Acting Police Superintendent John Escalante said the case of Coleman’s death is “under investigation, as it should be.” He also said that while the independent investigation is ongoing, the department “will be doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises.”

Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder

Chicago’s main police union is standing in support of Officer Jason Van Dyke after he was charged with first degree murder last week, accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.

The Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) posted a bail fund appeal for Van Dyke on its website on Saturday after creating a bond fund appeal on Wednesday. Currently, Van Dyke is being held without bail.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Officer Charged First Degree Murder]

The shooting, which was captured on dash cam video that was recently released via a court order, shows Van Dyke opening fire on McDonald just six seconds after exiting his patrol vehicle.

[WARNING: The following video contains graphic content]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6tx-wqI9d0

The FOP is reportedly “paying the lawyer representing Van Dyke, Daniel Herbert, himself a former FOP member the union pays to represent Chicago cops in misconduct cases,” and that an earlier link on the FOP’s website to a GoFundMe campaign was “removed after the fundraising site said it violated a policy against its use by criminal defendants.”

Between 2008 and 2014, 74 percent of the people shot by police in Chicago were black. According to interviews with white and black police officers conducted by Reuters, the officers indicated that it was worthwhile to put Van Dyke’s actions “in the context of a racially divided city beset by violence.”

During Van Dyke’s 14-year career as a police officer, there were at least 20 complaints against him, according to an online database of police misconduct complaints compiled by the Citizens Police Data Project. None of those complaints resulted in discipline.

The release of the dash cam video from the shooting has led to protests in Chicago, and in response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced on Sunday that by mid-2016, police officers will wear body cameras in six additional police districts.

[RELATED: Investigator Says He was Fired for Finding Police Officers At Fault in Shootings]

Earlier this year, former Chicago Police Commander Lorenzo Davis said he was fired from his job as a supervising investigator at Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) after he determined that several officers involved in civilian shootings were unjustified, and he refused to change the status of his reports.

As previously reported, the case against Van Dyke is the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first degree murder.