According to published news reports he was removed from his home and his mother due to child abuse allegations. He was three years old at the time and he spent the next two months in foster care. He left that first foster care placement to stay with a relative. Details aren’t clear but that arrangement changed after a few months when he was moved from that relative and now placed with his great grandmother.
Eight months after moving in with his great grandmother, and nearly a year and a half after being removed from his mother’s care, he was reunified with her. It was May 2002 but a year later, in June of 2003, at the age of five he was removed again. The child welfare agency had determined there was physical abuse likely at the hand of the mother’s live-in partner. Again the placement was in a foster home until he could be reunified with his great grandmother a month later.
After five years the great grandmother sought and was granted legal guardianship of her great grandson. There finally seemed to be stability in this boy’s life but five years after that guardianship the great grandmother passed away.
The boy was now 15 years old. Again it was back to foster care in the summer of 2013. In January of the next year, 2014, the teenager was arrested for marijuana possession. He spent at least ten days in a juvenile justice facility until he went to a foster care center of some form and stayed there for the next five months.
Finally, he would land at an uncle’s house. Living with his uncle he found an alternative school for 16 to 21 year-olds. By some accounts and comments by his school principle to the press and comments by others he seemed to be headed in the right direction, he was regularly attending school and seemed to be engaged with school activities and his schoolwork. Maybe life was taking a turn toward a full and successful adulthood after a tough childhood of somewhere around ten placements. But it was not to be.
As all of America now knows that would not be what happened to Laquan McDonald. On October 14, 2014 he was shot sixteen times by a Chicago police officer.
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