Family of another teenager killed by Chicago police reflect on Van Dyke’s verdict
Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated assault and battery this afternoon, nearly four years after shooting Laquan McDonald, 17, and older two years since video of the incident was released to the public.
Three years before McDonald’s, in 2011, 19-year-old Calvin Cross was shot dead by Chicago police in West Pullman. Chicago cops weren’t required to wear body cameras yet. There were also no recordings of the incident on the dashcam. Cross was shot three times by officers Macario Chavez, Mohammed Ali and Matilde Ocampo. He died instantly.
A investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority found that officers reported Cross brandished and fired a gun at them, but the investigation also found that the gun found at the scene was unusable. Nonetheless, in 2013, the IPRA estimated that the shooting justified, and the three officers are still in the force. Cross’s mother, Dana Cross, believes her son would have been vindicated if tapes of the incident had been made.
“I think justice has been served for Laquan,” she said. “In my son’s case, it’s been eight years. I think I might have had justice sooner if I had had audio or video.”
As she applauds the verdict, Cross believes that Jason Van Dyke’s trial does not represent a standard of justice but rather is emblematic of a system that is only called into action when compelled to do so. Cross’s sister, Senetra Cross, shares this point of view.
“I feel like justice will only be done if this becomes a social media epidemic,” she said. “If my brother had had video footage of everything that happened it would have been different.” Cross believes his brother’s case has been “swept under the rug”.
The Crosses eventually sued the city for Calvin’s death and secured a $ 2 million settlement that went into a trust for his son. Today, they are happy that the McDonald family has seen the murder of their loved one recognized as a criminal act. They only wish it was not such an anomaly for police officers who use excessive force to be punished for their wrongdoing.