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Monday, December 7, 2015

New documents in Laquan McDonald shooting suggest cops lied about what they saw, adding to questions about police dishonesty in Alabama and Missouri

Laquan McDonald, on a Chicago street, seconds before
cops shot him 16 times.
Five Chicago police officers who witnessed the Laquan McDonald shooting say the 17-year-old lunged threateningly at them before Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot him, according to documents the city released Friday night. That differs from events in a video released last week, which shows McDonald walking away from officers before being shot 16 times.

Were officers honestly mistaken about what they saw or was this part of an orchestrated campaign to lie and cover up for what now appears to be a gross misuse of deadly force?

If this was an effort to intentionally lie--and we suspect it was--it raises a number of troubling questions for my wife, Carol, and me, here in our current "home" of Springfield, Missouri. Carol is recovering from trauma surgery required to repair her left arm, which was shattered during an unlawful eviction that Greene County deputies conducted on September 9. Sheriff Jim Arnott was standing about five feet away when three of his deputies surrounded Carol as she was trying to retrieve our cat's litter box, slamming her to the ground and yanking on her arms so severely that both were badly bruised and one was broken to the point that the humerus almost came through the skin.

How unlawful was the eviction? The public record shows officers had no grounds to be at our rented property that day, much less to handcuff us both, rough us up, point weapons (including an assault rifle) at us, and break Carol's arm.

Before we were forced to leave Alabama, largely because of a dubious foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham, I was arrested and spent five months in the Shelby County Jail--all because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation lawsuit that was unlawful under more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Research indicates I'm the only journalist in U.S. history to be incarcerated under such circumstances.

In brutalizing Carol, Missouri cops have made statements--before, during, and after the event--that we know are false. Arnott immediately pointed at Carol and said, "She assaulted a police officer." This was laughably contrary to the facts and the law (more about Missouri law on this subject coming soon), but a Deputy named Scott Harrison drove Carol--with her broken arm handcuffed behind her--to the Greene County Jail and said she was facing a felony charge, with likely a $100,000 bond.

We've also seen evidence that officers concocted a claim that I had placed a 911 call, threatening any officers who attempted to evict us. I never made any such call, but comments on the scene that day indicate officers used their belief in such a "call" to justify acting like a SWAT team, pointing an assault rifle and multiple handguns at us as they burst into our apartment.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, borken by
Missouri deputies.
Is flagrant dishonesty part of police culture? Consider this from a Chicago Tribune report on the McDonald shooting:

Hundreds of pages of newly released Chicago police reports from the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald are most striking for one simple reason: They are dramatically at odds with the dash-cam video that has sparked protests across the city, cost the city's top cop his job and embroiled Mayor Rahm Emanuel in scandal.

The reports, released by the city late Friday, show that Officer Jason Van Dyke and at least five other officers claim that the 17-year-old McDonald moved or turned threateningly toward officers, even though the video of the October 2014 shooting shows McDonald walking away, and the scenario sketched out by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez in charging Van Dyke with murder contends he was walking away as well.

At least one patrol officer said McDonald was advancing on the officers in a menacing way and swung his knife at them in an "aggressive, exaggerated manner" before he was shot and killed. Officers claimed, too, that even after McDonald had been shot by Van Dyke, the teen tried to lift himself off the ground with the knife pointed toward the officers, and though he had been mortally wounded, still presented a threat.

The reports, a collection of handwritten statements from the night of the shooting, and follow-up reports in the days and months after, often refer to Van Dyke as VD and call him the victim. McDonald is O, for offender. Some are in police shorthand.

"VD believed O was attacking w/knife," said a report of Van Dyke's account. "Trying to kill VD. In defense of his life, VD backpedaled + fired. O fell to ground, continued to move/grasp knife. VD continued firing. O appeared to be attempting to get up, still holding knife. Pointing at VD."

Are these police accounts pure rubbish? We invite you to watch the video at the end of this post and come to your own conclusions.

Our conclusion is this: Chicago cops intentionally lied to provide cover for Officer Van Dyke,and we suspect a similar campaign of dishonesty is under way here in southwest Missouri to protect the officers who brutalized Carol--one cop in particular who appeared to be mostly responsible for breaking her arm.

We also suspect that institutional dishonesty was present in my unlawful arrest and incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama. The signs there are unmistakable, and we will address them in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Now THIS is why I enjoy your site, LS! Exposing true injustice. After all, your tag line is all about exposing injustices...and that's exactly what you did here. Hats off to you!

Anonymous said...

We basically hire semi-reformed thugs to be police officers in U.S.

Anonymous said...

I hope dash cams or body cams caught what happened to Carol. Also, I hope they have sound.

legalschnauzer said...

I do, too, @11:27. I hate to think how the McDonald shooting would have been treated without the video.

Anonymous said...

You have been fairly adamant that you did not make a specific type of call, but did you make any call,at all to any agent of the owner of your apartment building , or to any court or law enforcement agency, such as the sheriff's office?

What calls did you make relating to an eviction, from the time the landlord gave you notice on Jul 2? Could any of,them have contained expressions along the lines that you meant to resist officers if they should appear to evict?

legalschnauzer said...

I made no calls to any court or law-enforcement agency. I made one call to a representative of the landlord, after she had called me, and we wound up discussing the Notice to Vacate that had been placed on our door. I've reported on this conversation several times, and a tape recording of it was played in open court and should be transcribed into the record. It contained no threatening language, from either party, other than the Cowherd rep promised to take legal action, to which we lawfully responded.

Bottom line: I made no call of any kind to anyone about an eviction. In fact, I've made hardly any phone calls at all in the year-plus we've been in Missouri. My wife and I share a cell phone, but it's primarily hers, and she keeps it most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that the city of Chicago released this information on a Friday night. The shooting happened over a year ago, and these documents are released on a Friday night in December 2015?

legalschnauzer said...

You make a great point @2:42. Saturday traditionally is the slowest news day of the week, so institutions wanting to more or less "hide" bad news have made it a habit to release such information on Fridays, preferably as late in the afternoon as possible. To actually release news on a Friday night is really going to extremes.

It hints at a city/police administration that is engaging in a cover-up and still not handling this story in good faith.

Scepter said...

The McDonald scandal will get huge before it's all said and done. Cops are looking a little better after the San Bernardino shooting, but the McDonald fiasco will bring them right back to the gutter, where a lot of them belong.

Anonymous said...

This story was all over the cable news shows last night. It's going to keep getting bigger, and I predict Rahm Emanuel bites the dust eventually.

Anonymous said...

Americans will never look at cops the same way again--and they shouldn't. The badge and the uniform are just covers for some seriously deficient individuals.

Anonymous said...

Has it occurred to you that the assault on Carol was planned? You could attribute it to one rogue officer--a guy who maybe has drug, alcohol or anger-management issues--but the whole thing sounds like a set-up to me. I think they planned to rough you guys up, and Carol just happened to get the worst of it.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, that has occurred to me, and I appreciate you bringing up the issue, @10:22. I definitely think it's possible that the plan was for Carol or me (or both of us) to be roughed up and jailed. I think it's possible that's why the eviction went forward, even though it clearly was stayed and unlawfully scheduled.

I also think that might be why Cowherd was determined to evict us, even though our rent had always been timely paid, and we had been model tenants. Seems to me you want to keep tenants like that, not run them off.

We recently were telling our story to someone, who said, "This is interesting, but there is a piece missing. Why would this cop do this? It makes no sense for him to jump Carol like this."

I didn't say it at the time, but I think the missing piece might be that the whole thing was planned.