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Analyzing the Media's Coverage of Laquan McDonald Shooting Video


With the release of a graphic video depicting Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, we examine how the media has covered this case.

What is the balance to be struck between the public's right to know what actually transpired and the family's desire not to have the video released?

We talk with two longtime Chicago media professionals about the issues raised by the release of the disturbing dash-cam footage.

Joining us to share their thoughts are Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington and Caryn Ward, an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School and former executive producer of WBBM-TV in Chicago.


Police Misconduct and Its Cost to Chicago

Earlier this month, the Citizens Police Data Project went online. The searchable database chronicles allegations of police misconduct based on disciplinary information obtained from the city of Chicago, and as of Wednesday afternoon there were 56,362 allegations of misconduct. The database includes the complaint, name of the accused officer and what punishment, if any, was received. It also provides the race and gender of both the police officer and complainant, as well as a map of where the incident occurred.  

According to the database, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke had 20 allegations of misconduct filed against him, including the Oct. 20, 2014 fatal shooting of McDonald. None of the complaints against Van Dyke resulted in disciplinary action.

In mid-October, the Better Government Association reported the city of Chicago has paid $61.5 million to defend legal claims against police officers since 2011.

In August 2014, “Chicago Tonight” reported on the city of Chicago’s decision to release the names of Chicago police officers who generate the most misconduct complaints. We also highlighted some of the settlements the city made in 2013.


Related 'Chicago Tonight' stories

City Releases Laquan McDonald Shooting Video

The Chicago Police Department on Tuesday released the dash-cam video depicting the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke.


Chicago Police Officer Involved in Laquan McDonald Shooting Charged with Murder

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charges Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. 


Chicago Reacts to Release of Laquan McDonald Video

Brandis Friedman reports live with reaction to the video, as well as reaction from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.


Ministers and Community Activists Respond to Decision to Charge CPD Officer with Murder

We talk with activists and faith leaders about the decision to charge the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald with first-degree murder and what reaction they expect from their community at large.


Chicago Prepares for Release of Controversial Police Shooting Video

The city is bracing for the release of a potentially damning video that is purported to show a white police officer shooting African-American teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times and killing him.


Understanding Police Shooting Investigations

The city of Chicago will release video this week showing a police officer shooting a teenager. We take a closer at look at the sometimes lengthy process of investigating police shootings.


City Will Release Laquan McDonald Police Shooting Video

Chicago officials are bracing for the release of a controversial video purported to show a white police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an African-American, 16 times and killing him.


McDonald Family Attorney, Journalist React to Judge's Ruling on Controversial Police Video

We talk with the freelance journalist who sued the city for the video and one of the attorneys representing the McDonald family during settlement talks with the city.


Laquan McDonald Police Video Release Stirs Mixed Reactions

We hear from two members of the black community as a Cook County judge orders the release of dashboard video footage of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.


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