Police Documents Reveal Why Dashcam Video of Laquan McDonald Shooting Was Missing Audio

Batteries were inserted upside down

The Chicago police squad car that captured the October 2014 shooting of 17-year old Laquan McDonald had no audio on its dashboard camera because the vehicle had “no MICs (microphones) because they were in the glove compartment with the batteries inserted upside down—disabling them.”

Documents outlining what police said prevented audio from being recorded were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NBC5 Investigates on November 27, 2015.

The initial release of the silent video in November sparked weeks of outrage and protests in Chicago.

Five police cars initially responded to a call in the 4000 block of South Pulaski of a young man with a knife on the night of October 20, 2014. Only two of the police vehicles recorded video, none recorded audio, according to city officials.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired the fatal shots, arrived in a unit in which police reports state there were “no MICs in (the) vehicle and the charging cradles (were) disconnected from power.”

Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder last fall and has entered a plea of not guilty. His attorney said his client did not intentionally damage the dashboard camera.

In addition, the documents released by police reveal what happened to the audio recorders in the other three vehicles at the scene. For one, a mobile start-up recorder was corrupted.

In another, the microphone was not synced.

A third camera was processing other video footage at the time of the shooting, unable to record the scene.

The Chicago Police document written by a Mobile Tech Supervisor in the Information Services Division is dated July 17, 2015. Within hours of the report being sent to Deputy Chief Jonathan Lewin, documents show police opened an investigation over the inverted batteries.

One day earlier NBC 5 Investigates first reported allegations of audio recording failures the night McDonald was shot.

On January 13th of this year, interim police superintendent John Escalante asked Inspector General Joe Ferguson to conduct an investigation into “allegations of misconduct.”

Other documents released through FOIA show the results of alcohol and drug tests administered to Van Dyke approximately four hours after the shooting. The results were negative.

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