Protesters largely honored calls for restraint Tuesday after the release of a dash-cam video showing a a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing a black teenager, with few arrests reported and only brief disruptions to city traffic.
City officials and community leaders had long braced for the footage of the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with murder earlier Tuesday. They feared the kind of turmoil that occurred in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody.
Shortly after the video's release, protesters began marching through city streets. Several hundred people blocked traffic on the near West Side. Some circled police cars in an intersection and chanted "16 shots."
Demonstrators, at times numbering in the hundreds, streamed through streets in the downtown and near South Side areas, gathering at one point outside the police department's District 1 headquarters.
Later, along Michigan Avenue, at least one person was detained, which led to a tense moment as protesters tried to prevent police from taking him away. Some threw plastic water bottles at officers and sat behind a police vehicle, refusing to move. Officers pulled them away, and the vehicle sped off. The Chicago Tribune reported that at least three people were detained by police, while one officer was taken to an ambulance with minor injuries.
The biggest group had mostly dissipated by 11 p.m., with a few dozen returning to the District 1 building. Another group of at least 50 people briefly blocked a busy expressway before walking toward a lakefront park.
Among the protesters was Justin Taylor, an 18-year-old University of Iowa student who returned home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.
"It's powerful we're coming together," Taylor said. "Things like this happen too often."
Protest groups are expected to stage more demonstrations in the days ahead, including one at City Hall scheduled for Wednesday and another seeking to block Michigan Avenue during Friday's holiday shopping bonanza.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said residents will "have to make an important judgment about our city and ourselves and go forward." He referred to the episode as a potential "moment of understanding and learning."
The relevant portion of the video runs for less than 40 seconds and has no audio.
McDonald swings into view on a four-lane street where police vehicles are stopped in the middle of the roadway. As he jogs down an empty lane, he appears to pull up his pants and then slows to a brisk walk, veering away from two officers who are emerging from a vehicle and drawing their guns.
Almost immediately, one of the officers appears to fire from close range. McDonald spins around and collapses on the pavement.
The car with the camera continues to roll forward until the officers are out of the frame. Then McDonald can be seen lying on the ground, moving occasionally. At least two small puffs of smoke are seen coming off his body as the officer continues firing.
In the final moments, an officer kicks something out of McDonald's hands.
Police have said the teen had a knife. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday that a 3-inch knife with its blade folded into the handle was recovered from the scene.
"It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling," Alvarez said of the video. "To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing. I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans."
But she also defended the 13 months it took to charge Van Dyke, insisting that she made a decision "weeks ago" to charge him and the video's ordered release did not influence that.
Months after McDonald's death, the city agreed to a $5 million settlement with his family, even before relatives filed a lawsuit, a move that also drew deep skepticism from the community.
At the time of McDonald's death, police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.
Van Dyke, who was denied bond on Tuesday, was the only officer of the several who were on the scene to open fire.
Alvarez said the officer was on the scene for just 30 seconds before he started shooting. She said he opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle and kept firing even though McDonald dropped to the ground after the initial shots.
At Tuesday's hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Bill Delaney said the shooting lasted 14 or 15 seconds and that McDonald was on the ground for 13 of those seconds.
An autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot at least twice in his back and PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in his system.
Van Dyke's attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains his client feared for his life and acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story.
After the shooting, Van Dyke was stripped of his police powers and assigned to desk duty.
Herbert said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and "can't be tried in the streets, can't be tried on social media and can't be tried on Facebook."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.