Johanna Wald, The Marshall Project
October 28, 2018
Chicago continues to reel from the shocking circumstances surrounding the shooting death of 17-year old Laquan McDonald four years ago by police veteran Jason Van Dyke. The case sparked massive protests, the ouster of the police chief, the electoral loss of the state’s attorney and the first conviction of a police officer in 50 years for a murder committed while on duty. It almost certainly contributed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision not to seek another term.
Yet, should we have been so shocked—by what the video showed us and the longstanding police practices preceding it? If we take a closer look at Van Dyke’s history, as well as what we now know about trauma and implicit bias, we could have almost predicted this tragedy. It’s a cautionary tale about the consequences of a system that fails to train its employees properly or hold them accountable for minimal levels of standards.