It has been three years since he first heard the name Laquan McDonald. The news of the teenager’s death on the Southwest Side of Chicago on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, received modest coverage in local news media. An article the next day in The Chicago Tribune, citing a police union spokesman, noted that Mr. McDonald was armed with a knife, behaving erratically. The report said that he had “allegedly lunged at police” before being fatally shot by an officer.
Mr. Kalven remembers reading the article. “And then I turned the page,” he said.
But less than a month later, he received a tip from a source, passed along by Craig B. Futterman, a former public defender who runs a civil rights clinic at the University of Chicago. The source said that the McDonald shooting was nothing like what had been reported, and that there was dashboard camera video to prove it. The tip led Mr. Kalven to a civilian who had seen the entire episode; with some prodding, Mr. Kalven persuaded the witness to talk. In January 2015, Mr. Kalven obtained the autopsy report — a painstaking record of 16 bullets fired into Mr. McDonald.
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