Chicago Cop Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Teen

     (CN) – A Chicago police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder charges stemming from the shooting death of a black teen in October 2014.
     Jason Van Dyke was indicted on charges of murdering Laquan McDonald in November, and after turning himself in, was released on $1.5 million bond.
     In the wake of McDonald’s death, everyone from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Chicago Police Department brass came under criticism for the handling of that case, including their stonewalling over the release of a police dashcam video of the shooting.
     In the end. Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the city to produce its footage of the incident. The footage led to murder charges against Van Dyke, and protests over Thanksgiving weekend.
     Filmed by a police cruiser’s dashboard camera, the grainy video shows 17-year-old Laquan McDonald walking down the middle of the street on Oct. 20, 2014, away from the dash-cam-powered police cruiser, and parallel to another police SUV.
     McDonald is not walking toward the white officer, Jason Van Dyke, standing several yards away beside the SUV, when Van Dyke fires his weapon.
     Though the footage shows McDonald drop to the ground at the first bullet, Van Dyke fires 15 more rounds. The video then shows another officer run up to the body and kick something – possibly a knife – out of McDonald’s hand.
     There is no audio attached to the video.
     According to media reports, police were called to Archer Heights, a neighborhood in southwest Chicago, on the night of the incident to investigate reports that a man with a knife was trying to break into vehicles.
     The police said McDonald tried to walk away when police approached him. McDonald is said to have pounded on the windshield of a squad car and punctured its front tire.
     Investigators contend that McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of the incident, that officers told him to drop his knife, and that he lunged at them instead.
     A witness told John Kass of the Chicago Tribune a different story, saying McDonald “wasn’t attacking anybody.” “He was looking for a way out,” the witness said. “He was just trying to turn away. The kid turned away, was dropped at the first shot or two, and the police kept shooting and shooting.”
     Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
     During his arraignment Thursday morning, Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, said his client feared for his life and insists the video does not tell the full story of what happened.
     Van Dyke’s arraignment came in the wake of a police shooting over Christmas weekend that led to the death of a 55-year-old grandmother and a 19-year-old student.
     Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is facing calls to resign, is said to be cutting short a family vacation to Cuba in order to deal with the aftermath of the latest shootings by police.

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