The video shows McDonald carrying a small knife, walking away from Van Dyke before the officer opens fire. The entire shooting took about 15 seconds, and McDonald was lying on the ground for 13 of them. An officer appears to kick at McDonald’s body after shooting him.
Van Dyke was finally charged with first degree murder more than a year after the shooting. Though State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has had the video for a year, the charges came days after a judge ordered the police to release the damning footage. City leaders quickly started scrambling to do damage control ahead of the release, realizing the video’s contents would inflame longstanding rage against Chicago PD’s rampant abuses. Chicago police killed more people than any other comparably sized police departments from 2010 to 2014.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel prefaced the release with a lengthy press conference urging people to stay calm. “I believe this is a moment that can build bridges of understanding rather than become a barrier of misunderstanding,” he said, while Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he understood people “had a right to be angry.”
An attorney for McDonald’s family said in April that the video “starts out as an unjustified shooting, and it turns into some kind of statistic execution.”