The Laquan McDonald case: A timeline of the past year

Wounds found on Laquan McDonald's body
Cook County Medical Examiner's report on entry and exit bullet wounds on Laquan McDonald's body. He was shot 16 times by a police officer.

By Aryn Braun and Max Greenwood

THE STORY BREAKS — Oct. 20, 2014

Laquan McDonald, 17, was shot and killed by Chicago Police near 41st Street and Pulaski Road around 9:45 p.m. in the Archer Heights neighborhood on the Southwest Side, after a 911 call reported suspicious activity.

When responding officers arrived at the scene, they found McDonald carrying a small knife and slashing cars’ tires, police said. McDonald reportedly punctured a squad car’s front-passenger tires and damaged the vehicle’s windshield.

McDonald allegedly lunged at the officers — a dashboard video released this week seems to contradict that — and was fired upon, according to police. He was pronounced dead just under an hour later at Mount Sinai Hospital near Douglas Park.

An autopsy conducted the following day revealed that McDonald had been shot 16 times. Nine of the shots, the report said, struck the teen at a downward angle.

SETTLEMENT — April, 2015

In early April of this year, before a lawsuit was even filed, the city approved a $5 million settlement to be distributed to the McDonald family. This settlement led to increased suspicions of foul play.


The Chicago Tribune reported Jason Van Dyke as the officer who shot and killed Laquan McDonald last October.

A member of the Chicago Police Department since 2001, Van Dyke was often assigned to neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime, and, according to police reports, had accrued 18 civilian complaints over the years.

The most egregious of the complaints was made by Ed Nance, who, according to the Tribune, was handcuffed so violently in 2007 that he was awarded $350,000 in damages after undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries.

Van Dyke was acquitted of all allegations in 2011 due to lack of evidence, the Tribune reported.


Freelance journalist Brandon Smith sued the Chicago Police Department in early August of this year, when it refused to release the dashcam video showing Laquan McDonald being shot.

According to a story Smith wrote for the Chicago Reader explaining his decision to sue, CPD had received and rejected 15 Freedom of Information Act requests for the video of the shooting.

“My fight for the release of the dashcam video began back on May 26,” wrote Smith. “I’m not taking no for an answer.”

On Nov. 19, 2015, more than three months later, Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the video to be released the following week. The city was not allowed to appeal the decision.

SERVIN ON HIS WAY OUT — Nov. 23, 2015

As Chicago awaited the release of the dash-cam video showing McDonald’s death Monday night, Superintendent Garry McCarthy moved to fire Detective Dante Servin, a police spokesman told the Chicago Tribune.

Servin shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood on the West Side in March, 2012. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting.

The announcement of the impending firing came on the heels of the backlash surrounding McDonald’s death.

VAN DYKE CHARGED — Nov. 24, 2015

Jason Van Dyke was held without bail Tuesday afternoon, after being charged with first-degree murder by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Van Dyke was placed on desk duty immediately following the October shooting, according to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. This is the first time an on-duty officer has been charged with first-degree murder in almost 35 years, the Chicago Tribune reported.

GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page allegedly created by Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, after her husband was charged. Donors raised $10,000 of the $80,000 goal before the page was removed.

TAPE RELEASED — Nov 24. 2015

The city released the six-minute-long dashcam video showing Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald sixteen times. The video was released following a press conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Tuesday evening.

More than halfway through the video, McDonald seemed to walk away from Van Dyke, who stepped out of his police car and opened fire almost immediately.

After the shooting, a police officer approached McDonald, who lay unmoving in the street, and kicked what is believed to be the knife he was carrying, out of his hand.

The tape was released ahead of a court-mandated Wednesday deadline.

Following the release, hundreds of protesters and organizers from groups including BYP 100 and We Charge Genocide, flocked to the streets to express their anger with the city and sadness for Laquan and his family.

The protest began around 5:30 p.m. near Halsted and Roosevelt and didn’t break up until early Wednesday morning.

More protests are expected in the next few days.

Photo at top: Cook County Medical Examiner’s report on entry and exit bullet wounds on Laquan McDonald’s body. He was shot 16 times by a police officer.