|Laquan McDonald, on a Chicago street, seconds before|
cops shot him 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|
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)