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Jason Van Dyke's Attorneys Cannot Access Laquan McDonald's Juvenile Record

By Erica Demarest | August 10, 2016 6:58pm
 Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with murdering Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with murdering Laquan McDonald in 2014.
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Chicago Tribune

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A Cook County Judge on Wednesday ruled that Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke's defense team is not allowed to access Laquan McDonald's juvenile records.

Van Dyke, 38, is charged with murdering McDonald in October 2014. Video of the shooting, which depicts Van Dyke emptying his clip into McDonald, sparked citywide protests when it was released by court order late last year.

Van Dyke's lead defense attorney, Dan Herbert, previously requested access to McDonald's protected juvenile records, which detail the teen's "chaotic history as a state ward," according to the Tribune.

Judge Patricia Martin on Wednesday ruled that Herbert and Van Dyke should not be able to access the confidential files simply because Van Dyke is charged in the teen's death, county sources confirmed.

"This court is troubled by your argument that you have a [legal] standing because you represent a person who is charged with the murder of this young man ... I don't find you have a special interest in these files," Martin said, the Tribune reported.

McDonald's relatives' attorneys slammed the request as "a fishing expedition," according to media reports. And a Kane County prosecutor assigned to Van Dyke's case said Herbert never made a compelling argument.

It was announced last week that Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon will serve as special prosecutor in Van Dyke's case.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez recused herself from Van Dyke's case in a surprise move in May. The recusal was likely a response to a February petition seeking a special prosecutor in the case — arguing that Alvarez couldn't be trusted because she had a "political alliance with the police union."

Van Dyke is free on $1.5 million bail as he awaits trial in McDonald's murder.

According to prosecutors, McDonald had been stealing car radios and was armed with a three-inch blade when Chicago Police officers in Archer Heights called in a radio request for a Taser on Oct. 20, 2014.

Van Dyke and his partner responded to the call, but never specified whether they had a Taser. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Van Dyke pulled his gun and emptied his clip into McDonald, shooting the teen 16 times, according to authorities.

Van Dyke's next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18.

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