COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — An attorney for the Chicago police officer accused of murdering Laquan McDonald in 2014 on Friday filed a second motion to dismiss charges against his client.
Defense attorney Daniel Herbert claims Cook County prosecutors in late 2015 misinformed a grand jury with "hastily gathered" information in their rush to secure a criminal indictment against Officer Jason Van Dyke before damning dashcam footage of the fatal shooting was released publicly.
"There was a ton of media attention around this case," Herbert said Friday during a hearing at Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 S. California Ave. "There was a rush to sacrifice Jason Van Dyke to the angry mob that's out there."
Van Dyke, 38, was charged in late 2015 with first-degree murder and official misconduct after the October 2014 slaying of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times outside an Archer Heights Burger King.
Then-Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez was widely criticized for waiting 13 months to file charges against Van Dyke. Many speculated that Alvarez only brought charges because a judge ordered the release of dashcam footage of the fatal shooting.
Herbert in court Friday claimed prosecutors failed to explain to grand jurors the rules Chicago Police officers must follow when using deadly force in the field.
Herbert also claimed prosecutors falsely informed jurors that Van Dyke and other Chicago police officers tampered with video evidence of the shooting.
Additionally, Herbert said, jurors were told the first bullet that hit McDonald struck the teen in his back. That's not true, the attorney argued, insisting "the shooting was justified."
Herbert last month filed a similar motion seeking to dismiss Van Dyke's indictment on the grounds that prosecutors shared with the grand jury "compelled statements" from Van Dyke.
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.
Special prosecutor Joseph McMahon — who was brought in to handle the case after Alvarez recused herself in May — requested clarification on the motion Friday. He argued that it was never made clear which statements were considered compelled.
Van Dyke will next appear in court March 23.
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.
Prosecutors said 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.
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.