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Lawyer for Teen Killed By Police Says Dashcam Video Shows Teen Walking Away

By Ted Cox | April 13, 2015 12:17pm | Updated on April 13, 2015 4:50pm
 Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton said the settlements were in
Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton said the settlements were in "the best interests of the city."
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Lawyers for a teen shot 16 times by Chicago Police are prepared to argue that a dashboard camera video shows Laquan McDonald was walking away when he was killed, the city's top lawyer said Monday.

Meanwhile, Corporation Counsel Steve Patton also disclosed that there are pending federal and state investigations into the shooting.

Patton said what preceded the Oct. 20 shooting of the 17-year-old is in dispute. The unnamed officer involved said he was "in fear of his life" as the teen advanced on him with a knife, Patton said.

Still, the city is moving forward with a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family, who had initially sought $16 million. The name of the officer, who is also being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority, was not disclosed. Patton said that is stipulated in the city's union pact with the Fraternal Order of Police.

 Ald. Edward Burke said for the want of a Taser $5 million was lost.
Ald. Edward Burke said for the want of a Taser $5 million was lost.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

The City Council's Finance Committee moved Monday to approve the $5 million payment to settle the case.

Patton told the committee Monday that, although the officer said he was in fear for his life, lawyers for McDonalds' family would argue that dashboard-camera video would show him walking away from the officers and that "deadly force was not justified."

"What preceded the shooting is disputed," Patton said.

The settlement, if approved by the full City Council later this week, would go to the mother and 15-year-old sister of McDonald, who was 17 when he was shot in the Archer Heights neighborhood.

According to Patton, Chicago Police officers responded on the evening of Oct. 20 to a report of a break-in at a truck yard at 41st Street and Kildare Avenue by a man wielding a knife.

Two officers followed a suspect who appeared to have a knife down a nearby street — one on foot, the other in a squad car.

Patton testified before the Finance Committee Monday that, when the squad tried to block him off as he neared Pulaski Road, the suspect stabbed a car tire and continued on. When another squad car pulled up and attempted to block him off, an unnamed officer emerged from the car and shot the suspect 16 times.

Patton said McDonald had an "extensive juvenile record" of committing crimes, but that "the proposed settlement is in the best interests of the city" for a number of reasons.

Patton said the first two officers to respond had requested backup with a Taser, as neither had a Taser.

"It would appear that, if a Taser had been available in this case, the taxpayers wouldn't be shelling out $5 million," said Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the Finance Committee.

Patton said it would also argue against the officer that two other police officers tailed the teen for blocks without attempting to halt him by force, that they called for a Taser and that none of the five other officers on the scene fired any shots.

Patton said there are pending federal and state investigations against the shooting officer, as well as an Independent Police Review Authority probe, but that he cannot be named, as stipulated the city's union pact with the Fraternal Order of Police, until formal charges are filed.

U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon confirmed Monday that he has an investigation open on the case, along with Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and the city's police review board. The FBI is leading the joint investigation.

The committee also approved a $250,000 settlement for Nanci Koschman, mother of David Koschman, the 21-year-old Mount Prospect man killed in a 2004 fight outside a bar with Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The Koschmans long charged a cover-up, and Vanecko eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges a year ago after the case had been reopened. Nanci Koschman's subsequent civil suit against the city was thrown out by a court judge, but Patton argued that, if that ruling were overturned on appeal, the city would spend far more than $250,000 just on legal costs defending the 21 defendants named in the suit.

"The damages could be substantial," Patton said, adding the settlement "makes sense" and offers "closure" to Nanci Koschman, whom he called "a sympathetic plaintiff."

The settlements go to the full City Council for final approval Wednesday.

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