Laquan McDonald timeline: The shooting, the video, the verdict and the sentencing
More than four years after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke to 6 3/4 years of prison, of which he will end up serving less than four. The shooting and the case, which have been the anchor point of activism and protests throughout Chicago for years, are the most recent battles in ongoing tensions between the Chicago Police Department and the people they are meant to serve. The fallout continues on many fronts, primarily in CPD, the courts and the community. Here is how the case unfolded.
Oct. 20, 2014
Officer Van Dyke shoots 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times near 41st Street and Pulaski Road. McDonald is later pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dec. 2014 - Dec. 2015
Tribune reviews of emails later released from the Emanuel administration reveal that City Hall scrambled on how to deal with the shooting and its aftermath during this time.
April 15, 2015
City Council votes 47-0 in favor of paying a $5 million settlement to McDonald's family.
May 26, 2015
Journalist Brandon Smith files a Freedom of Information Act request with the Chicago Police Department asking for videos from the night Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald.
Aug. 4, 2015
After three extensions, CPD denies the request for the video, citing an ongoing investigation into the shooting.
Aug. 5, 2015
Smith files suit against the CPD to release the videos.
Nov. 19, 2015
Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama orders the city to release the police dashcam video by Nov. 24.
Nov. 24, 2015
Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder. Hours later, the city releases the police dashcam video that captured Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times and killing him. Protesters march in the Loop into the next morning.
"An analysis of the video establishes that 14 to 15 seconds passed from the time defendant fired his first shot to clear visual evidence of a final shot. For approximately 13 of those seconds, McDonald is lying on the ground."
-- People of the State of Illinois vs. Jason Van Dyke, proffer
Nov. 26, 2015
The city releases video from four additional police vehicles.
Nov. 2015 - March 2016
Protests, several in the Loop and along Michigan Avenue, are held, with many lasting hours. Protesters chant "16 shots" and call for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation and the firing of police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
Dec. 1, 2015
Emanuel fires Superintendant McCarthy.
"We have to recognize that if we don't like the way the system works, change the system, right? I described to you all the things that people wanted from police oversight, and outside investigatory agencies exist (in Chicago), and at the end of the day they didn't like the results. And somebody had to take the fall and somebody had to take the hit."
-- Garry McCarthy, speaking on a panel on policing at Harvard University, several months after being fired
Dec. 6, 2015
U.S. Attorney General
Dec. 15, 2016
Mayor Emanuel announces the creation of the Task Force on Police Accountability, which will study the processes, oversight and training at CPD, and make recommendations.
Dec. 16, 2015
Van Dyke indicted on six counts of first-degree murder and and one count of official misconduct.
Jan. 22, 2016
Two officers, Detective David March and Officer Joseph Walsh, whose reports were dramatically at odds with dashcam video of McDonald's shooting, are put on desk duty.
Van Dyke, who was suspended without pay, is hired as a janitor by the city's police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago.
A lieutenant, Anthony Wojcik, who will be later recommended by Inspector General Ferguson to be fired, retires.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that CPD officers' emails discussing the Laquan McDonald shooting can't be kept secret even though they were transmitted privately.
Aug. 15, 2016
Deputy Chief David McNaughton retires. McNaughton ruled the shooting was in compliance with departmental policy, one day after Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald.
McNaughton is one of the people Inspector General Ferguson would later recommend firing.
"Officer Van Dyke fired his weapon in fear of his life when the offender while armed with a knife continued to approach and refused all verbal direction."
-- Then-Deputy Chief David McNaughton, signing off on the shooting of McDonald by Van Dyke.
Videos released show McDonald did not walk toward police at the time of his killing.
Aug. 16, 2016
Inspector General Joseph Ferguson recommends in a report that 10 officers related to the shooting and death of McDonald be fired. Johnson says evidence against one of the officers is insufficient.
Aug. 18, 2016
Superintendent Eddie Johnson recommends that seven police officers involved in the shooting's cover-up, many of them patrol officers at the scene of the shooting, be fired. The officers' names were not released.
Van Dyke and at least five other officers claimed that McDonald, who had a knife and did not respond to police commands, moved threateningly toward officers before Van Dyke shot and killed him. The video shows McDonald did not lunge.
"Each of these decisions was based on a methodical and substantive review of the facts by both internal and external counsel. Each officer will have their right to due process."
Aug. 30, 2016
Superintendent Eddie Johnson files administrative charges seeking to fire five officers involved in the shooting and its cover-up: Officers Jason Van Dyke, Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes, as well as Sgt. Stephen Franko. The cases must go before the Chicago Police Board and officers can challenge their firings.
Jan. 13, 2017
More than a year after it was announced by Lynch, the Justice Department releases a report that says CPD engages in abuse against citizens, excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities. The city and the Justice Department are now negotiating a consent decree that would include specific reforms overseen by an outside monitor.
"The pattern of unlawful force we found resulted from a collection of poor police practices that our investigation indicated are used routinely within CPD. We found that officers engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits, and that these foot pursuits too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone -- including unarmed individuals."
-- Justice Dept. investigation on CPD
Jan. 19, 2017
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson handed down one-week suspensions to four officers for failing to ensure the dashboard cameras in their squad cars were operating properly on the night of Laquan McDonald's shooting, a spokesman confirmed.
March 23, 2017
Besides six counts of first-degree murder and one count of misconduct, Van Dyke is charged with 16 counts of aggravated battery -- one for each shot fired at Laquan McDonald -- in a new indictment.
June 27, 2017
Three current and former Chicago police officers, David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney are charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice connected with covering up the shooting. March was the lead detective and Walsh was Van Dyke's partner on the night of the fatal shooting.
Sept. 6, 2018
Sept. 13, 2018
12 jurors are selected in the jury trial for Van Dyke -- they consist of eight women and four men.
Sept. 17, 2018
"We're here because Jason Van Dyke didn't value the life of Laquan McDonald enough to do anything but shoot him."
-- Special prosecutor Joseph McMahon
Sept. 20, 2018
The prosecution rests its case after presenting 24 witnesses.
Sept. 24, 2018
Defense to begin presenting their case, arguing that Van Dyke feared for his life.
"Those symptoms of rage, aggression, violent behavior, drug-induced psychosis, that describes Laquan McDonald. Yeah, Jason Van Dyke recognized that. Did that play a factor in his decision to shoot? Absolutely."
-- Van Dyke's lead attorney, Daniel Herbert
Oct. 3, 2018
The defense rests its case.
Oct. 4, 2018
The jury begins deliberating after hearing closing arguments from both sides.
Oct. 5, 2018
After a weeks-long trial, Van Dyke is found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He is found not guilty of official misconduct.
Jan. 17, 2019
Retired Detective David March, ex-patrolman Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney are acquitted of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, in a ruling that stuns the family and community of McDonald.
Jan. 18, 2019
Though sentenced to almost seven years in prison, Van Dyke will serve less than 3 1/2 years after Judge Vincent Gaughan found the second degree murder conviction to be more serious and "merged" the aggravated battery convictions into sentencing for that.
"People get the police that they seek, and God help the city of Chicago."
-- Retired Chicago police Officer Kenneth Watt
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.