New prosecutors are trying to clean up the mess made by the previous crew’s attempt at coverup of the Police murder of McDonald.
Ain’t it funny how every time a black man is murdered the “find” drugs in his system to justify the murder? Oh! He was a “serial offender!” – he got 4 Parking Tickets and a Jaywalking charge in the last 20 years!
A new indictment unsealed Thursday in the murder case against Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke added 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time the officer shot Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Joseph McMahon, the Kane County state’s attorney who was appointed special prosecutor in the high-profile case, had previously said his office believed that none of the rounds fired by Van Dyke was legally justified.
In the indictment returned March 16 by a new grand jury, Van Dyke is still charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct as well.
Van Dyke, who has been suspended without pay since soon after he was first charged in November 2015, pleaded not guilty Thursday to the new indictment through his attorney.
McMahon denied in court that he sought the new indictment to correct what Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, had labeled fatal errors in the initial charges.
“I disagree with Mr. Herbert,” said McMahon, who made it clear, though, that he believed the issues raised by Van Dyke’s motion to dismiss the original indictment “were now moot.”
Herbert had alleged prosecutors misled the original grand jury by instructing them to consider Van Dyke’s actions only under the state’s first-degree murder statute, not under a separate law that governs an officer’s use of force.
He also alleged that prosecutors improperly presented to the grand jury statements that other officers at McDonald’s shooting were required to give by police disciplinary officials. And he also said grand jurors were wrongly told that the 17-year-old McDonald was shot first in the back.
The autopsy report showed that McDonald was shot 16 times in the scalp, neck, both sides of his chest, his back, both arms and his right hand and leg. But authorities have never publicly divulged — if they know — where he was first shot.
Herbert said he planned to file a similar motion to dismiss involving the new indictment after reviewing grand jury testimony given before the indictment was returned March 16.
Through his attorney, Van Dyke again entered a not guilty plea before Judge Vincent Gaughan.
The fallout over the dashboard camera video of the white police officer shooting the black teen has caused the most severe crisis for Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his time in office and led to a blistering report by the U.S. Department of Justice that portrayed a broken Police Department in which officers commit misconduct and use excessive force with little fear of repercussions.
The video showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of exiting his police SUV as McDonald walked away from police with a knife in his hand in the middle of the road shortly before 10 p.m. Oct. 20, 2014, contradicting many of the officers’ written accounts that the teen had lunged at police with the knife.
As McDonald walked away from him, Van Dyke took at least one step forward and fired 16 rounds at McDonald in about 14 seconds and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire, prosecutors have said.Hundreds of pages of Chicago police reports showed that Van Dyke and at least five other officers claimed that the McDonald moved or turned threateningly toward officers, even though video of the shooting showed McDonald walking away.
Authorities said McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of his death.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is seeking to fire Van Dyke and four other officers whose accounts did not match the video.
McMahon has asked that the Chicago Police Board, which will decide on the firings, to hold off on hearings until after Van Dyke’s criminal trial to minimize publicity that could affect the trial’s jury selection.
However, most Chicago police officers charged with misconduct have opted to put their fate in the hands of a judge, not a jury.
At Thursday’s hearing, an attorney for the police board said the board has agreed to hold off on an evidentiary hearing in Van Dyke’s case until Gaughan, who is presiding over the officer’s criminal trial, rules on the issue.
Gaughan, who has routinely held lengthy off-the-record discussions with the attorneys in the case in his chambers at each status hearing, held to form Thursday, meeting privately with the attorneys — without a court reporter present — for about 45 minutes. The public discussion in his courtroom then lasted about 15 minutes.