When cops don’t protect you: How the police have failed us
When police in the US are accused of brutality or excessive force, what they often do is turn a blind eye.
In this case, they were not.
In the city of Oakland, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed Black teenager Laquan McDonald on November 26, 2014.
The police had responded to a call about a man with a gun who appeared to be threatening someone.
Wilson told the dispatcher that McDonald was reaching for a gun and had to be stopped.
At this point, McDonald reached into the car he was driving and fired at the officer, striking him.
At least 17 officers fired bullets into the vehicle.
In a video posted to social media by a McDonald family, the teen’s mother, Roseanne, described her son as a “bad boy”.
She said: I can’t believe he did it.
I couldn’t believe it.
The officer’s family said the shooting was unjustified.
In response to the video, police in Oakland launched an investigation.
Wilson was charged with murder and is currently in prison awaiting trial.
The shooting of McDonald sparked protests nationwide and prompted nationwide protests against police violence.
However, in Oakland, the police response to protests was swift and brutal.
The city council voted unanimously on November 24 to charge Wilson with first-degree murder.
Wilson’s supporters were quick to call for his indictment.
The Oakland city attorney said that Wilson’s actions amounted to excessive force.
As the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division explained in a statement, “the killing of Laquans life-long friend and brother in cold blood in the line of duty does not conform to the standard of self-defense that applies to most police officers.”
After months of protests, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who had been elected by the city council, announced that she was resigning.
In her resignation letter, Schaaf said she would continue to “support our city police officers as we work to build trust and build justice in the city.”
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of California, which prosecutes cases related to police misconduct, said that the case against Wilson was being handled by an outside law firm, which is a division of the Justice Department.
“We are reviewing the charges against Darren Wilson and will determine the appropriate next steps,” said Jessica Vaughan, a spokesperson for Assistant US Attorney Paul Mancuso.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on pending cases.”
However, the US attorney’s office told Al Jazeera that the charges were not a “totally new development”.
According to the office, the case is based on the evidence that has been collected and reviewed by the US attorneys office since November.
The investigation began in December 2014, and was led by Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Bittles of the Oakland Police Department.
Bittlies told Aljazeera that Wilson was “a dedicated and dedicated officer”, who had worked at the Oakland PD for about three years.
“He was a man of honor and integrity who was very dedicated to his community and to his colleagues,” he said.
Bittles added that Wilson had “a long and distinguished career” and that he was “very well regarded by many people”.
According a news release from the US district attorney’s department, the charges are being handled through a process that includes “the review and evaluation of evidence gathered by the district attorney, and the development of a prosecutorial opinion, which will ultimately lead to an indictment.”
According to police records, Wilson was investigated in January 2015 for misconduct by the Oakland police department.
The US attorney noted that Wilson has “since retired from the Oakland city police force”.
In a statement provided to Al Jazeera, the city attorney’s spokesperson said: “The US Attorney will review this matter and will not comment further.”
Following the shooting, protests were held in the Bay Area, and Oakland was the site of the biggest march since the 1989 Rodney King riots.
In December 2015, protesters occupied the city’s Oakland Municipal Center.
The protest, which lasted for weeks, resulted in police shooting and wounding hundreds of people.
Police officers have faced protests around the country.
In Seattle, an officer shot a mentally ill man, and in New York, an unarmed black man was fatally shot by police.
In November, President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address, urged the US to take the “urgent step” of reforming the way police conduct their business.
“It is time for us to get tough on crime and to stop the killing of innocent people by police officers,” Trump said.
The Justice Department said in a news conference that it would “review the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Mr. McDonald and take appropriate actions to hold accountable those who commit acts of violence against officers”.
The Justice department also said that it will examine the circumstances around the shooting to determine whether there was any evidence of a “pattern or practice” of excessive force by police, “including excessive force that results in death or injury”.
In his statement