Tag Archives: Witnesses

Protest, march over fatal shooting set for Chicago on Black Friday

A large protest is planned for Nov. 27 — Black Friday — in Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue shopping area. The protest follows demonstrations that occurred in the city after the release of a squad-car video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager.

A guide to what’s taking place in Chicago, where Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times.

THE SHOOTING

On the night of Oct. 20, 2014, police responded to a call of a teen with a knife. Witnesses said he was breaking into cars and stealing radios.

Police have said McDonald refused their orders to drop the knife and walked away from them. The police union also said that at one point McDonald lunged at officers with the knife.

The video released Tuesday shows McDonald jogging down an empty lane on a four-lane street and then veering away from Van Dyke and another officer who emerge from a police SUV drawing their guns. Within seconds, Van Dyke begins firing. McDonald spins around and falls to the pavement as Van Dyke keeps shooting.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Van Dyke emptied his weapon before his partner stepped forward and kicked the knife away from McDonald.

Alvarez said police later recovered a knife with a 3-inch blade that was folded into the handle.

An autopsy report showed McDonald had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system.

THE VIDEO RELEASE

A freelance journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the video after learning of the shooting, but the Chicago Police Department refused to release it, saying it could hurt investigations.

Activists and attorneys argued the public had a right to see the video, and last week a Cook County judge agreed. He gave the city until Wednesday to make it public.

At a joint news conference Tuesday evening, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discouraged the kind of unrest seen in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody.

Emanuel and McCarthy described the shooting of McDonald as an unusual and tragic incident, and the mayor noted that McDonald’s family had asked people not to resort to violence.

THE INVESTIGATION

Alvarez said Tuesday she decided to announce the charges against Van Dyke earlier than planned because of the video’s release. But she said the video becoming public wasn’t a factor in her decision to charge him with first-degree murder.

She said it was clear McDonald didn’t pose a threat to the officer and that his use of force was improper.

Alvarez also defended the length of time it took to file charges. She said her office has been working with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office since mid-November on an active, joint criminal investigation and that police-involved shootings are “highly complex” cases that take longer than typical shootings to investigate.

THE OFFICER

Van Dyke turned himself in Tuesday, and a judge ordered him held without bond.

The 37-year-old has been a Chicago police officer since 2001. He is married and has two children.

His attorney, Dan Herbert, said the officer has never been disciplined.

But Van Dyke was the subject of 18 civilian complaints over 14 years, including allegations that he used racial epithets and excessive force, police and court records show. At least one complaint was linked to a civil trial where jurors awarded damages to someone he arrested.

Herbert said Van Dyke feared for his life when he fired at McDonald and that the case should be tried in the courtroom, not in social media or on city streets.

McCarthy said the officer, who had been on desk duty during the investigation, is no longer being paid. Another bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

PROTESTS

Hundreds of people have participated in demonstrations in and near downtown Chicago, including City Hall, since the video was released. Police say nine people have been arrested, and a charge of aggravated battery of a police officer was dropped against one person on Wednesday.

Study shines light on campus sexual violence

About 11.7 percent of students across 27 universities reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled.

The incidence of experiencing sexual assault and sexual misconduct among female undergraduate students was 23.1 percent. The rate was 5.4 percent for male undergraduates, according to the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct released by the Association of American Universities.

Twenty-seven universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, participated in the survey, which took place in the spring and involved more than 150,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

“Our universities are working to ensure their campuses are safe places for students,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of AAU, an organization of 62 private and public research universities. “The primary goal of the survey is to help them better understand the experiences and attitudes of their students with respect to this challenge.”

The survey, one of the largest to date dealing with campus sexual violence, looked at whether survivors of sexual assault and sexual misconduct reported incidents to the university or another organization, such as law enforcement. It revealed that rates of reporting were low, ranging from 5 percent to 28 percent, depending on the specific type of behavior.

Students said they did not report incidents because they felt “embarrassed, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult.” Another explanation: Students said they “did not think anything would be done about it.”

Other findings in the survey:

• Rates of sexual assault and misconduct are highest among undergraduate females and those identifying as transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming and questioning.

• The risk of the most serious types of nonconsensual sexual contact due to physical force or incapacitation decline from freshman year to senior year.

• Nonconsensual sexual contact involving drugs and alcohol constitutes a significant percentage of the incidents.

• A little fewer than half of the students surveyed witnessed a drunk person heading for a sexual encounter. Among those who reported being a witness, most did not try to intervene.

Last year, when the White House launched the “It’s on Us” campaign to keep women and men safe from sexual violence, the administration encouraged people to take a personal pledge that includes a promise “to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.”

Other elements of the pledge: to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

UW-Madison: It’s on Us

Earlier in October, UW-Madison joined the “It’s on Us” campaign, displaying its commitment to the effort at the Badger’s homecoming football game on Oct. 17.

In addition, a series of “It’s on Us” videos — featuring UW athletes Vitto Brown, Corey Clement and Sydney McKibbon, athletic director Barry Alvarez and men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves — will be played at home games at Camp Randall Stadium, the Kohl Center and LaBahn Arena.

“We are pleased to join with the campus in raising awareness of this issue,” said Alvarez. “We are constantly educating our staff and student-athletes about creating an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported, and this is a great way for us to share that message.”

More than 40 student leaders at UW-Madison, along with University Health Services, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, the UW Police Department and the Division of Student Life took the “It’s on Us” pledge.

Witnesses help case in transgender slaying

Witnesses assisted the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in arresting Gary Montgomery for the Feb. 2 fatal stabbing of a transgender woman Deoni Jones.

Montgomery faces a second-degree murder charge.

The complaint against Montgomery, 55, who faces a preliminary hearing on Feb. 23, alleges that while armed with a knife, he attempted to kill or cause serious injury to Jones.

The report states that a police officer who heard screaming found Jones on the ground, with a knife still in her head. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was placed on life support but died early Feb. 3.

Police began searching for witnesses and eventually found five to help their case – two witnesses who witnessed the attack, one who saw the defendant and Jones at the bus stop where she was stabbed and two others who identified Montgomery in a video surveillance tape released to the public.

The first two witnesses were waiting for a traffic light to change near the bus stop. One witness told police that he saw a man strike Jones, who collapsed to the sidewalk, and grabbed at her purse.

Both witnesses went to aid Jones, and one attempted to pursue her attacker, who dropped the purse as he fled. They provided descriptions of the man, including a statement that he had big eyes, suggesting that he was under the influence of something.

A third witness told police that he saw Jones and a man, later identified as Montgomery, at the bus stop. That witness also described the man, including that he had big eyes.

A surveillance video first shows Jones and a man at the bus stop, then the arrival of witness No. 3, who soon after left. Then, on the tape, Jones walks away from the bench, with a man following. When Jones returns, the man follows. They sit on opposite ends of the bench for about eight minutes. Then the man stands, faces Jones and strikes her in the head.

After the video was released to the public, the fourth witness called police and identified the man in the tape, the “person of interest,” as Gary Montgomery.

A fifth witness who saw the tape also led police to Montgomery, who has been arrested multiple times in recent years.

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.