By Arlene Jones
I'll never forget where I was the first time I saw the video of Laquan McDonald getting shot. The memory of each bullet penetrating him and those that ricocheted out hitting the icy cold ground will forever stay etched in my memory.
So when I heard the news last Friday that CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke had been found guilty, my reaction wasn't celebratory. Rather, tears flowed because no person should ever have to die in a hail of gunfire for being a stupid kid.
I wasn't able to watch the entire trial. Nor did I follow it closely. However, it was on the first day of that trial that Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be seeking re-election. That announcement was the confirmation, in my opinion, that he knew about the Laquan McDonald video a lot earlier than he professed. He was also attempting to set himself away from the responsibility of the aftermath of the verdict, in case the city erupted. He is truly one politician who needs to spend more time with his family and permanently disappear from the political landscape. It would also be nice for someone to at least consider indicting him for culpability in the cover-up of Laquan's murder along with numerous others.
One of the local news stations had the closing arguments by the prosecution and the defense available online. I watched those videos, and when they showed the autopsy photos, I didn't flinch. Some of the bullet fragments had even penetrated Laquan's teeth! That was enough for me, even before knowing what the outcome was going to be, to pray for a peaceful response. Had the jury found Van Dyke not guilty, I too was willing to take to the streets in protest. Thankfully the jury couldn't be as easily swayed as what happened in the Rodney King case.
I don't know why Van Dyke took the stand in his own defense. His testimony was stilted, as if he tried to remember everything they had prepped him to say. The most incredible part of his testimony, was proclaiming that he kept telling Laquan to drop the knife. Even though the police video was missing the audio, I found that hard to believe. Also the tape from the Burger King was missing one and a half hours of recording — that missing time conveniently covered the period of Laquan's murder.
I have always felt that the first degree charge against Van Dyke was accurate. My strong belief was based on the patrol car that actually caught the shooting. When that squad car arrived on the scene, the driver, officer Janet Mondragon attempted to turn her vehicle away so that it would miss what was about to happen. I have always contended she did that on purpose. She knew Van Dyke's character and knew what he would surely do. However, Laquan turned his body the exact same way and that's why his murder by all those shots was so accurately captured.
In the end, there was no need for the jury to visit the actual spot where the killing occurred. But I advise everybody to go over on Pulaski Road just south of I-55. When you see that location near the Burger King, you can understand why there was nothing that Van Dyke was protecting when he shot Laquan dead. Van Dyke's sentencing will be the true test of whether we get real justice. In the meantime, we need to remain vigilant.
Rest in peace, Laquan McDonald. Your short life contained many villains. Van Dyke wasn't the only one. May the others who are just as guilty, if not judged by man, be judged by God!
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