COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, pleaded not guilty at a brief Tuesday morning court hearing.
Van Dyke arrived to court just before 9 a.m., surrounded this time mostly by reporters. At his last hearing, protesters surrounded him on his way into the courthouse and chanted "coward" as he walked inside.
Judge Vincent Gaughan was assigned to handle the case. Gaughan has handled a number of high-profile cases, including the child pornography case against R&B singer R. Kelly, and he said Tuesday the Van Dyke case would be handled like any other high-profile case.
Laquan's great-uncle, Marvin Hunter, wants the trial "televised gavel to gavel" to ensure justice is served, especially, he said, after police shot and killed 55-year-old Bettie Jones and 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier in Austin over the weekend.
Van Dyke's attorney, Dan Herbert, said he had no objection to cameras being used in the courtroom but said the deaths of Jones and LeGrier should not affect the Van Dyke case.
Van Dyke is "doing OK" and wants to tell his story so people know he is "not a monster," Herbert said. The officer has not commented publicly.
Earlier this month, Herbert said he wanted to move the trial out of Cook County due to the extended media coverage his case as received, as well as damning comments about Van Dyke from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"We're going to have to find a county that is outside of the reach of the mayor's comments," Herbert said. "He had essentially told everyone in the public [that] my client murdered Mr. McDonald, and he's a bad apple."
Herbert on Tuesday said Van Dyke's defense team was still considering the change of venue request.
Van Dyke attorney says they are still considering a change of venue request. pic.twitter.com/CBcKInehdx— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) December 29, 2015
Herbert has said he believes the first-degree murder charge was going to be difficult for the state to prove.
"I don’t believe this is a murder case. Certainly Jason Van Dyke did not go out and start his tour of duty with a thought process that he was going to kill Mr. McDonald, let alone anyone else," he said. "He was brought into this situation by the action of Mr. McDonald, and he reacted based upon his training and based upon what he was perceiving at the point.”
A video released in November shows Van Dyke, 37, getting out of his police SUV and shooting Laquan multiple times. Authorities said he hit him 16 times, emptying his gun into the teen, including many shots while Laquan was on the ground.
Police union officials initially said Laquan lunged at them with a knife. The video shows Laquan holding a knife and spinning while walking down the middle of the street.
Hunter told reporters at Van Dyke's last hearing, he also wanted the trial moved away from Cook County, claiming he wouldn't see justice for Laquan in a city where "the police police the police."
Van Dyke's next court date is set for Jan. 29.
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