Five Chicago police vehicles responded to 41st and Pulaski on the night of October 20, 2014 when Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. At least two mounted police dash cameras recorded video, including the one showing the 17-year old being felled by the first of 16 bullets striking him. None of the units on the scene that night recorded audio.
“Although some of the other responding units had operating dash cams, due to their positioning they did not capture the actual shooting,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a Tuesday press conference. “Nor do they contain audio recordings,” she said.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy likewise said the video was silent.
“There was no audio with the tape that I saw, the video that I saw,” he said. “And I don’t think audio does exist.”
According to a police training video obtained by NBC 5 News through the Freedom of Information Act both picture and sound are automatically engaged when police emergency lights are turned on.
In a demonstration tape used by the Chicago Police Department that was produced by Coban Technologies, the makers of the camera, “The in-car camera system automatically engages video-audio recordings when the vehicles emergency roof lights are activated.”
Video from the night of October 20, 2014 clearly shows police cars with emergency lights activated.
“Some times we have technical difficulties, some times officers need to be disciplined if they don’t turn it on at the right circumstance,” Superintendent McCarthy said Tuesday.
But according to documents provided by the City to NBC 5 News no units on the scene that night reported any technical problems with the cameras.
Among the remaining questions is what happened to surveillance video taken on the night McDonald was mortally wounded from a nearby Burger King on South Pulaski?
As we previously reported after the shooting, according to the District Manager for Burger King, 4 to 5 police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video and were given the password.
After nearly three hours inside, the officers left. The restaurant manager said afterwards there was an 86-minute gap in the video.
“Forensic testing was done on the Burger King surveillance system to determine if anyone tampered with the evidence and the testing did not reveal any such evidence,” State’s Attorney Alvarez said.
Who did the testing, she was asked?
“That’s all I’m going to say in this,” Alvarez replied.
The release of the dash cam video is but one of a number of public records reporters have sought from the Chicago Police Department. Despite repeated requests from NBC 5 News under the Freedom of Information Act, the Chicago Police Department has not released any police reports from the night McDonald was shot.