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Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in teenager's death

[JURIST] Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday for the death of black teenager Laquan McDonald in October 2014. A graphic dashboard camera video of the shooting was also released [AFP report] Tuesday and sparked public outcry. City officials have been sharply criticized for waiting over one year since the incident to release the footage of the officer shooting the teenager 16 times and to bring charges against Van Dyke. Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez [official profile] stated that they decided to prosecute [WSJ report] Van Dyke because McDonald did not pose an immediate threat and because he continued to shoot the 17-year-old after he had already collapsed. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated [Chicago Tribune report] on Chicago streets after the release of the video, reminiscent of the protests following the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin.

Police use of force has been a controversial issue across the US recently. In September Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected motions [JURIST report] to drop charges against six police officers implicated in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody and later died in April. Earlier this year Judge Edgar Dickson of the South Carolina Circuit Court declared a mistrial [JURIST report] in the murder case against a former police chief for the 2011 killing of an unarmed black man. After a grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Micheal Brown [USA Today Timeline], there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case had reached international news with Amnesty International reporting [JURIST report] human rights abuses by Ferguson Police in late October. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] also published a report [JURIST report] arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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