5 years after the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, here's a look at four major players in the controversial cover-up
Five years ago, these four people were respected individuals in positions of power. All that changed after Laquan McDonald was shot and killed one fateful night in October 2014
When 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot by police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, a storm began brewing in the city of Chicago. Once video evidence was released revealing that the young black man was shot no less than 16 times, that storm erupted and caused massive changes across the city's social and political landscape.
Heads rolled, reputations built over decades were tarnished and sweeping changes were introduced in the functioning of the Chicago Police Department. After an elaborate attempt at covering up, the incident came to light, multiple public officials and police officers were either fired or forced to resign and Van Dyke was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
Five years after that fateful night in October 2014, we take a look at some of the people who were involved in the controversy that followed:
The Mayor: Rahm Emanuel
The aftershock of the Laquan McDonald shooting was felt all the way to the very top of the city administration. Rahm Emanuel, who was Chicago's Mayor at the time, faced heavy criticism despite his decision to fire police superintendent Garry McCarthy and initiate investigations into the Chicago Police department.
His office was accused of trying to suppress evidence in order to safeguard Emanuel’s chances for re-election to a second term in 2015. After completing two terms as Mayor of Chicago, Emanuel declared that he would not be running for a third term and subsequently stepped down from office. According to a June 5, 2019, report by the Wall Street Journal, he has now joined investment bank Centerview Partners LLC and will be opening a Chicago office where he will advise clients on merger deals among other matters.
The State's Attorney: Anita Alvarez
The Laquan McDonald shooting also led to protests demanding the resignation of Anita Alvarez, the State's Attorney at the time. She was accused of willful inaction after she waited 13 months to charge police officer Jason Van Dyke for the shooting. Alvarez refused to resign and ran for re-election in 2016 but she lost the Democratic primary to Kim Foxx who has also been the subject of some controversy. In May 2019, it was reported that Alvarez had joined professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal where she will "work to expand the firm's fiduciary services offerings, including serving as a court-appointed monitor, receiver or examiner"
The Superintendent: Garry McCarthy
A week after dashcam footage of the shooting was publicly released, police superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired by the Mayor’s office. In 2019, McCarthy ran for Mayor against incumbent Rahm Emanuel, the man who dismissed him from his former position.
Speaking to the Chicago Sun Times, he said, "The next mayor needs to do what we were beginning to do when I was CPD superintendent: work to restore legitimacy to city government by eliminating the political manipulation and micromanagement of the police department by City Hall."
McCarthy was forced to concede the election in February 2019 as Emanuel's decision not to seek a third term led to an unprecedented number of candidates running for office. He now runs a private security consulting firm named GFM-Strategies.
The Shooter: Jason Van Dyke
Despite receiving a relatively light sentence of a little less than seven years for his crime, life has not been easy for former police officer Jason Van Dyke. During his trial, Van Dyke was forced to appear in court wearing a bulletproof vest as death threats began piling up against him and his family. After his conviction, he was transferred to a prison in Western Illinois to await sentencing. He was subsequently moved to the federal penitentiary in Danbury, Connecticut. He was reportedly assaulted by his fellow inmates on February 7, 2019, leading to some minor injuries. He has since been moved to segregated housing and his safety is a major concern for prison officials.
The shooting is the subject of '16 Shots', a new Showtime documentary film directed by Richard Rowley ('Dirty Wars').