Chicago Cop Pleads Not Guilty: Jason Van Dyke Maintains Innocence In Laquan McDonald Shooting

jason van dyke

Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty in the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald. The white police officer was charged with murder for shooting the 17-year-old black teen in October, 2014. Late last month, an Illinois grand jury ruled that criminal charges were warranted in the case.

The Chicago Police Department suspended Jason Van Dyke before he was arraigned on the misconduct and first-degree murder charges. Black Lives Matter protests ramped up on Black Friday when streets were blocked on the city’s “Miracle Mile” and shouts for “Justice for Laquan McDonald” were chanted in the downtown area.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has come under intense pressure to step down from office over a fairly steady stream of police brutality claims. Emanuel has decided to cut his Cuba vacation short and come back to town as the Van Dyke case proceeds, and more allegations involving local law enforcement officers surface.

Rahm Emanuel left the state with his family on December 18 and spent Christmas in Cuba, Fox News reports. The mayor is cutting his trip short so that he can return to the “ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust” in the police department, according to a spokesman for the former Obama administration staffer. Reverend Al Sharpton is among those calling for President Obama’s long-time friend to resign. During a morning news show, Sharpton deemed it “unbelievable” that Emanuel did not immediately return after the weekend shooting. Shootings typically occur every weekend in Chicago, sometimes in the double digits.

During his arraignment on murder charges earlier today, Black Lives Matter protesters continued to pound city officials with questions about the weekend police involved shooting deaths of Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old black male domestic violence suspect and 55-year-old grandmother, Bettie Davis. The grandmother was accidentally shot and killed when officers opened fire on the teen, who they maintain was charging them with a baseball bat.

The Chicago cop was released on a $1.5 million bond in November, ABC News reports. Judge Vincent Gaughan will once again have Jason Van Dyke, 37, before him at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on January 29. Van Dyke and several other police officers responded to calls of a man slashing tires on Pulaski Road and 41st Street.

The officers followed Laquan down the street as the suspect walked in the middle of traffic until they could safely maneuver to exit their cruisers and attempt to apprehend the young man. McDonald was surrounded by the officers, cruiser dashcam video ultimately revealed. Jason Van Dyke shot the suspect 16 times, CBS News reports.

The lengthy delay in the release of the dashcam video added to the anger of the protesters. Dan Herbert, the Chicago cop’s attorney, claims that the footage does not show the whole story and added that his client is eager to share his side of the events in court. Herbert has not ruled out seeking a change of venue in the case, which include six counts of murder.

“He wants his story to get out so that people don’t see him as this cold-blooded killer, but that’s what the trial is for,” the officer’s attorney added.

The family of Laquan McDonald told reporters that they want the Jason Van Dyke trial covered “gavel to gavel.” The teenager’s great uncle, Marvin Hunter, said that the family believes that a culture exists within both the Chicago Police Department and the county criminal justice system, which allows police officers to “feel comfortable” with “murdering” black people.

What do you think about the Jason Van Dyke not guilty plea in the Laquan McDonald shooting? Should Rahm Emanuel step down from his position as the Chicago mayor?

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