Judge expected to rule Thursday whether video of cop fatally shooting teen will be released

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Dashcam video of a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting an African-American teen may cause an uproar in Chicago, if it’s released.

On the video, the officer fires 16 shots into the 17-year-old and on Thursday, a judge will decide whether to release the footage.

On the night he was killed, surveillance video  from a warehouse shows a police officer and a police spotlight following Laquan McDonald. Minutes later, McDonald was shot dead 16 times by a Chicago police officer.

There’s a police dashcam video of the actual shooting, and journalist Brandon Smith has filed a lawsuit to have the dashcam video made public.

“I think it's important because it adds to this conversation of, 'Can we hold accountable the people who have authority in our society',” Smith said.

McDonald was shot in October of 2014. Police claimed he had a knife, was acting in a threatening manner and lunged at them. After his family's attorneys obtained the dashcam video, the city agreed to settle the case. So, the video never surfaced at a trial.

“The video would show that he wasn't a threat to the officers, he certainly wasn't going to attack the officers, or lunge at them, as was the narrative provided by the city,” said family attorney Jeff Neslund.

A truck driver parked nearby told police he witnessed the shooting. He says the shooting resembled an execution.

“He fell to the ground, and I guess he tried to get up or move, and they just unloaded the rest of the clip on him,” the alleged eyewitness said.

On Friday, the Mayor was asked if the dashcam video ought to be released.

“You have an investigation and you never release a video while that investigation is going on,” Mayor Emanuel said.

Journalist Jamie Kalven uncovered the autopsy report showing the 16 gunshot wounds. Kalven says the Emanuel administration deserves credit overall for its transparency, but that this particular video may have been judged too damaging to release during a period when the mayor was up for re-election.

“Imagine if two weeks before the run-off election, the full implications of this case had become apparent, as it did six days later, when they settled,” Kalven said.

A judge is expected to rule Thursday on whether the city must release the video under the Freedom of Information Act. But whatever the ruling, it's expected to be appealed, so don't look for the video to be released soon.

 The Illinois Attorney General's Office is asking the Chicago Police Department to release the video. In a letter released Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Neil Olson says the department failed to offer evidence that releasing the video would interfere with an ongoing investigation of the October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

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