A timeline of events since the Laquan McDonald shooting
The shooting of Laquan McDonald and the cover-up of the dashcam video that showed the incident has had political, policy and cultural implications in Chicago and beyond. This timeline tracks the big moments that occurred since the 16 shots were fired on Oct. 20, 2014.
October 20, 2014
Laquan McDonald is shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, an incident that is caught on a dashcam video released to the public over a year later. Police went to the 4100 block of South Pulaski Road after receiving a call that someone was breaking into cars. Following the shooting, then-Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said that the 17-year-old was found “with a strange gaze about him” carrying a knife which he refused to drop when police ordered him to do so.
February 10, 2015
Jamie Kalven of the Chicago-based Invisible Institute publishes a story in Slate on McDonald's autopsy, which shows that the teenager was shot 16 times, not solely in the chest as originally reported.
April 15, 2015
City Council approves $5 million settlement with McDonald's family.
May 26, 2015
Freelance journalist Brandon Smith and activist William Calloway file a Freedom of Information Act request for the dashcam video.
November 19, 2015
Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama orders that the video be released by Nov. 25.
November 24, 2015
Van Dyke turns himself in after being charged in the murder of Laquan McDonald. He is ordered held without bail.
After the initial hearing, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said it was the first-time a Chicago Police officer was charged in murder for an on-duty shooting.
Alvarez said she had been planning to charge Van Dyke for weeks, but the public release of the video pushed up her timetable
November 24, 2015
After Van Dyke appears in court, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then-Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announce the arrest of Officer Jason Van Dyke at a news conference.
"In this case, we have a tragic ending to unfortunately a tragic life of a young man who was betrayed on a number of different levels," McCarthy said.
On Van Dyke, the mayor said: "We hold our police officers to a high standard, and obviously in this case, Jason Van Dyke violated the standards of professionalism of becoming a police officer, but also basic moral standards that bind our community together."
November 24, 2015
The video release touches off protests in Chicago, that would continue for weeks and months. The first night of protests drew nearly 400 people. Larger crowds came to the Black Friday protest on the Magnificent Mile a few days later.
November 25, 2015
Four additional police dashcam videos related to the shooting were released, though the videos don't show the incident.
In one an officer arrives after the shooting. Laquan McDonald is on the ground, with several pools of blood flowing from his body into the street.
Another is a dashcam view from the police car that Van Dyke was traveling in while in the passenger seat.
November 30, 2015
Van Dyke's bail gets set at $1.5 million. He is released from jail after posting bond.
The mayor’s office also announced plans to create a "Task Force on Police Accountability." The panel, tasked with addressing police complaints, misconduct and videos of incidents, includes Lori Lightfoot, then the president of the Chicago Police Board and a 2019 mayoral candidate challenging Emanuel.
December 1, 2015
Emanuel fires McCarthy, Chicago's top cop. "Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership to confront the challenges the department and our community and our city are facing as we go forward." John Escalante was named the interim superintendent as the city began the formal process to find a replacement.
December 5, 2015
The city releases hundreds of pages of documents related to the shooting including original incident reports, as well as summaries filed later by detectives, showing that some officers’ version of events differed from the dashcam video.
In one document, Van Dyke told the detective that McDonald “ignored Van Dyke’s verbal direction to drop the knife and continued to advance toward Van Dyke. … When McDonald got to within 10 to 15 feet of Officer Van Dyke, McDonald looked toward Van Dyke. McDonald raised the knife across his chest and over his shoulder, pointing the knife at Van Dyke.” The video did not show that.
December 6, 2015
Scott Ando, head of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates police shootings, is ousted from his post and replaced by Sharon Fairley, a former federal prosecutor.
December 7, 2015
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces a federal probe into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department.
March 15, 2016
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez loses re-election to challenger Kim Foxx in the Democratic primary. Foxx won 62 percent of the vote and Alvarez lost every predominantly black ward in Chicago.
March 27, 2016
Rahm Emanuel rejects the Police Board's three nominees for police superintendent and names chief of patrol Eddie Johnson to the post.
May 1, 2016
Lt. Anthony Wojcik, who was involved in the department's investigation of the shooting, retires.
May 1, 2016
Van Dyke is hired by the Fraternal Order of Police as a janitor.
May 13, 2016
Emanuel announces plans to close IPRA and replace it with a civilian agency to investigate police complaints.
June 23, 2016
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, the mayor's office releases 3,085 pages of emails related to the shooting and the release of the dashcam video. The emails included communications starting from an Oct. 21, 2014 notification of McDonald's death to dealing with fallout after the video was released.
August 4, 2016
Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon named the special prosector in the case.
August 30, 2016
The Chicago Police Department formally moves to fire five officers in connection with the shooting: Van Dyke, Sgt. Stephen Franko and Officers Daphne Sebastian, Janet Mondragon and Ricardo Viramontes.
January 13, 2017
Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch unveils a 164-page Justice Department report finding “reasonable cause” that the police department engaged in a pattern of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
January 18, 2017
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson suspends four unnamed officers for not ensuring their dashboard cameras were working properly at the time of the shooting. The four officers were each issued week-long suspension.
February 27, 2017
New U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticizes his predecessor’s reports on misconduct in local police departments, including Chicago, as “pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based.”
March 23, 2017
A new indictment charged Jason Van Dyke with 16 additional counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
June 14, 2017
Litigation over a potential consent decree begins when a collection of community groups files a federal lawsuit.
June 27, 2017
A three-count grand jury indictment is issued charging patrol officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and detective David March with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct. The three are accused of filing false reports in the case. Their trial is expected to begin in November.
August 29, 2017
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan files her own lawsuit seeking federal oversight of the Chicago Police Department — and Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s on board with a consent decree.
November 14, 2017
The grand jury investigating the cover-up of the shooting disbands.
July 27, 2018
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan unveils a proposed 225-page consent decree aimed at limiting police use of force in some instances and attempting greater transparency in cases of police discipline.