New documentary examines Laquan McDonald’s death in 2014

Jose Torres (left to right), Trina Reynolds-Tyler, Jamie Kalven, Richard Rowley and William Calloway speak at the panel discussion following a viewing of “16 Shots.” (Photo by Spencer Bibbs)

By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Staff writer

A new film walks viewers through the killing of Laquan McDonald in 2014, from the moment of the shooting through the moments leading up to Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s sentence of seven years in prison for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

The film not only focuses on McDonald’s killing but examines and how local activists fought for justice after the Police Department tried to cover up the shooting.

On Tuesday evening, June 4, more than a hundred people filled up the performance hall at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., to watch the Chicago premiere of “16 Shots” by Academy Award nominee Rick Rowley.

The documentary detailed how the crime was brought to light through the actions of McDonald’s family members, lawyers, reporters, courageous eye-witnesses and local activists.

The film featured interviews with Jamie Kalven — a producer of 16 Shots, reporter, Founder of the Invisible Institute — Page May of Assata’s Daughters, William Calloway — a community organizer and candidate for 5th Ward alderman — State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and others.

The documentary does not leave the audience with a concise conclusion. The film, instead, leaves views with a few questions — who controls the narrative of a police-involved shooting? When is someone a victim or an offender? What does justice look like in an incident like this?

Following the screening, there was a panel discussion with Kalven, Rowley, Calloway, Trina Reynolds-Tyler of the Invisible Institute and Jose Torres, a witness to the shooting.

When asked how he felt after seeing the documentary for the first time, Calloway said, “Whenever Laquan is mentioned, for me, personally, I can’t mention Laquan without mentioning Rekia Boyd. Rekia Boyd was shot and killed by detective Dante Servin, she was how I really got activated. Because of her life was how I got active. Watching this film reminds me of how far we have come.”

For Kalven, the film was “A story of citizens pushing back against abuses of state power.”

For those who missed the performance on Tuesday evening, the film will premiere on Showtime on June 14 at 8 p.m. Chicago time.

s.smylie@hpherald.com