A Closer Look at Chicago

Alex Thomas
Staff Writer
@Alex_Thomas14

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Kenney.

The name Laquan McDonald was known by some, but really wasn’t a major story in the news during the 2015 calendar year until last week. McDonald was shot 16 times and killed by a white police office in the city of Chicago back in October of 2014. What was the reason the story popped up across the nation last week? A judge had ordered the dashboard camera footage to be released.

I’m not sure about you, but I wanted to watch this tape. It’s not because I enjoy watching this kind of thing, no one does, but I thought it was important to see what actually went on here. That tape was one of the worst things I have ever watched in my entire life. The police officer in question went so far over the line that it isn’t even a debate. It’s quite an incriminating video and reminds me of the one from last spring in South Carolina when an officer shot and killed a black man.

I grew up in a police household; my father was an officer for years. A number of my dad’s friends were and still are officers . I have the utmost respect for the police and, quite frankly, I always will. People don’t understand the sacrifice that they make on a daily basis, putting their lives on the line and routinely missing holidays and family events to protect everyone. I’ll always respect them and always shake my head at the constant bashing that police officers seem to get.

That being said, there are always bad people in a group. Unfortunately, officers are no different and we have seen these bad people jump to the forefront of the discussion in the last two years. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Chicago and any issue in between, we have seen people abuse the power of being in the police force and step to a level that is beyond unacceptable. Officer Jason Van Dyke, the man who killed McDonald, went way over the line and there is no debate about that.

This man committed murder. He killed someone and that’s an uncorrectable mistake that has brought more attention to Chicago and has changed multiple lives. The objective of the police is to protect and serve, not to abuse power.

I was always told by officers that I personally knew that in a situation where you are threatened, there are proper steps to take. I can assure you that shooting someone 16 times, including multiple where clearly the threat is neutralized, is not part of that approach. If the threat is immediately upon you and threatening your well-being, you are trained to neutralize that threat. The dashboard video clearly shows that there was never an immediate threat on officer Van Dyke.

McDonald did have a knife and was walking toward squad cars, so of course there is going to be attention on him. Regardless of color, if you are walking towards police officers while holding a knife, you immediately become a person of interest and a possible immediate threat. McDonald turned his back on the officers well before becoming an immediate threat, meaning the officer in question had absolutely no ground to shoot him.

I’m not sure how the police here are trained, it’s a question worth asking, but I have the utmost confidence that they are trained the correct way. That goes for the city of Springfield and really any major city around the United States.

No police officer is, against the belief of many surprisingly, trained to kill someone who isn’t an immediate threat. Some police officers, like the one in question in Chicago, step over a line and abuse their powers.

What happened in 2014 can only be described as a tragedy, and hopefully the process will bring justice for this brutal murder.

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