US & Canada

Chicago police release dashcam video of fatal shooting

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Media captionDashcam footage shows the moment 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was fatally shot by police in Chicago

US officials have released dashboard camera video showing a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times in Chicago last year.

Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder for killing Laquan McDonald, 17. Police say he refused to drop a knife.

Mr Van Dyke said through his lawyer and police union he had feared for his life.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has appealed for calm in the city.

After the video was released, several hundred people held a march in Chicago, blocking traffic. During a tense but largely peaceful demonstration the crowd chanted "16 shots".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Scuffles were reported as demonstrators marched through the streets of Chicago
Image copyright Chicago Tribune
Image caption Laquan McDonald is the latest in a series of young black men to have been killed by police

Police use of excessive force against African Americans has been the subject of nationwide protests for months.

"It is fine to be passionate but it essential to remain peaceful," Mayor Emanuel told a news conference.

Chicago has been preparing for possible protests ahead of the release the police dashcam video.

In Minneapolis on Monday night, one of those protests was marred by violence when three white men opened fire at a rally, injuring five people.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot the black teenager, turned himself in

Analysis: Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC North America correspondent

A year to the day since violent protests took place in Ferguson, Missouri, America is once again discussing the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a black teenager by police.

It has taken campaigners in Chicago a year for police dashcam footage of the death of Laquan McDonald to be released. In Ferguson there were no videos to show what happened - prompting nationwide calls for body cameras - and the debate still rages on today about whether or not the grand jury made the right decision not to press charges against police officer Darren Wilson.

In this case, the officer involved, Jason Van Dyke, has now been charged with first-degree murder.

Although many complain this has all been a long time coming, officials hope these actions will defuse any tensions in Chicago, one of America's largest and most diverse cities.

Step-by-step guide to what happened

In the Chicago case, a post-mortem examination showed Mr McDonald had been shot at least twice in the back.

State lawyer Anita Alvarez said Mr Van Dyke had not been justified in shooting the teenager.

She said Mr McDonald had been carrying a knife when he was stopped by police in 2014 but had not been threatening them or moving towards them.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters held hands to form a human chain and block traffic

Mr Van Dyke opened fire seconds after he arrived and continued shooting at the teenager as he lay on the ground, the lawyer added.

"While we expect officers to do their jobs... there are a few bad apples who go too far and break the law," she said.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has said the video is "very troubling" and he expects a strong public reaction, though he hopes it will be "thoughtful and peaceful".

The police union in Chicago had opposed the release of the video and said it would taint a trial jury.

Chicago police say Mr McDonald threatened officers with a knife and slashed the tyres and windows of a patrol car.

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