He was removed from his mother’s care when he was three due to abuse and neglect. He spent two months in foster care, then was placed with a relative. That arrangement changed after a few months when he was removed from that relative and placed with his great grandmother.
Eight months after moving in with his great-grandmother, and more than a year after being removed from his mother’s care, he was reunified with her. Another year later, at age five, he was removed again because of physical abuse at the hands of his mother’s live-in partner. He returned to foster care until his great-grandmother was able to be reunified with him.
After five years great-grandmother sought and was granted legal guardianship of her great grandson. Finally there seemed to be stability in this boy’s life. But five years later great-grandmother died.
The boy was now 15 years old. He returned to foster care in the summer of 2013. In January 2014, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. He spent 10 days or more in a juvenile facility until a place was found for him in a foster care home, where he stayed for the next five months.
Finally, he would land at an uncle’s home. Living with his uncle he found an alternative school for youth aged 16-21. He seemed to be heading in the right direction, according to his friends and his principal. He was regularly attending school and seemed engaged with school activities and his schoolwork. Life for this young man appeared to be taking a turn toward success in adulthood.
But it was not to be. On October 14, 2015, Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer.
(adapted from the Child Welfare League of America Children's Monitor, December 14, 2015)