It's been seven years since Ed Nance was roughed up by a Chicago police officer who handcuffed him so violently during a 2007 traffic stop he seriously injured both shoulders, costing him tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages.
Nance, a cable company employee with no convictions, says he will never forget the nonchalant look on the officer's face when, two years later, a federal jury ruled he and his partner had used excessive force and awarded Nance $350,000 in damages.
"They looked like, OK, so what, go (back) to work," Nance told the Tribune in an interview. "They was back on the street like nothing ever happened."
When Nance was recently told that Officer Jason Van Dyke, who aggressively handcuffed him that night, is being investigated by the FBI for shooting a teen 16 times, he broke into tears.
"It just makes me so sad because it shouldn't have happened," Nance said. "He shouldn't have been on the street in the first place after my incident."
The Tribune has learned that it was Van Dyke who was on patrol in the Chicago Lawn District on Oct. 20 when he was called to the 4100 block of South Pulaski Road, where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was acting erratically and refusing police commands to drop a 4-inch folding knife.
Within moments of arriving, Van Dyke jumped out of his squad car with his gun drawn and opened fire on McDonald, killing him, authorities have said. Lawyers for the McDonald family said the officer emptied his semi-automatic. None of the five other officers there fired a shot, according to authorities.
Earlier this month the U.S. attorney's office announced a criminal probe into the shooting, which was captured on a dashboard camera from another police vehicle. The news of the investigation broke as the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to approve a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family even before a lawsuit was filed.
The investigation comes amid the public outcry nationwide in recent months over police use of lethal force against minorities, including in Chicago where last week a white Chicago police detective was acquitted on a legal technicality for a fatal off-duty shooting of a 22-year-old black woman in 2012. Van Dyke is white, while McDonald was African-American. Nance also is black.
Van Dyke has been stripped of his police powers and assigned to paid desk duty. Police have maintained the officer, whose name has not been released by the city, fired in fear of his life because the teen lunged at him and his partner with the knife.
The officer did not return calls seeking comment, and no one answered the door at his Chicago home Friday.
Attorney Daniel Herbert, who confirmed he is representing Van Dyke, called the 14-year veteran a "highly decorated and well-regarded officer with zero discipline on his record."
"He believes he acted appropriately and within department guidelines," Herbert said.
Department records reviewed by the Tribune show that over the years, Van Dyke, who has been assigned mostly to high-crime neighborhoods, has been accused by citizens of a number of abuses, from hurling racial epithets to manhandling suspects and, in one complaint, pointing his gun at an arrestee without justification.
But he was never disciplined for any of the 15 complaints that have been resolved, including the one Nance filed after his run-in with Van Dyke, according to city documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.