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Throw Out Charges Against Officer Who Shot Laquan McDonald, Attorney Argues

By Erica Demarest | January 10, 2017 12:55pm | Updated on January 10, 2017 6:00pm
 Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 38, appears in court for a status hearing last year.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 38, appears in court for a status hearing last year.
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Chicago Tribune

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — An attorney for the Chicago Police officer charged with fatally shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014 filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss his client's indictment.

Jason Van Dyke, 38, was indicted Dec. 15, 2015, on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.

Defense attorney Daniel Herbert on Tuesday argued that former Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez shared Van Dyke's compelled statements with both the media and the grand jury responsible for Van Dyke's indictment.

Van Dyke made the statements in question under threat of being fired, Herbert said, and was "expressly promised" the statements would not be used against Van Dyke in criminal proceedings.

Herbert petitioned Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan to dismiss Van Dyke's indictment.

Special prosecutor Joseph McMahon is expected to file a response. Van Dyke's next court appearance is slated for Feb. 3.

Though Gaughan did not rule on the defense motion Tuesday, he announced that Herbert soon will be able to access most of McDonald's juvenile records. Herbert has been denied access to those record by a juvenile court judge more than once.

Herbert has argued that McDonald's mental health and any possible prescriptions could have played a role in how the young man behaved the night he was killed.

Gaughan said he planned to exempt certain files relating to McDonald's birth mother and sister.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson last year moved to have Van Dyke and several other officers fired over allegations they lied after the shooting of McDonald.

RELATED: Did Police Try To Cover Up Laquan McDonald Shooting? Grand Jury Selected

McDonald had been stealing truck radios and was armed with a 3-inch blade on Oct. 20, 2014, when Chicago Police officers in Archer Heights called in a radio request for a Taser, prosecutors said.

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. Video of the shooting, which was released via a court order in November 2015, sparked protests that shut down the Mag Mile and other major streets.

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