The 16 shots that killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October, 2014, have never been heard by anyone other than those who were there that night. And that’s because Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot him, never activated his dashcam microphone. Police maintenance logs also show that he broke his dashcam on purpose, a practice that apparently has not been uncommon among Chicago police officers.
Between September of 2014 and July of 2015, police cars were found to have been without microphones 90 times. At least 30 other times, dashcam audio either had not been activated or had been tampered with intentionally to keep it from working.
One apparent motive is that officers who want to create their own narratives of events can do so much easier when there is no audio accompanying their dashcam video. In the McDonald shooting, for example, initial police reports said that the teen only had been shot once. An autopsy report later revealed that he actually had been shot 16 times.
Police dispatcher audio from that night revealed that McDonald was not the “immediate threat” that officers had initially reported, and that none of the police officers at the scene had a Taser – which could have been used if McDonald actually had been an “immediate threat.”
The Chicago Police Department said that officers who have disabled dashcam audio and intentionally damaged the dashcams will be punished. Officer Van Dyke has been charged with first–degree murder in the death of Laquan McDonald.
In Your Ear audio courtesy of CNN.