The Chicago officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, entered a not guilty plea to the six counts of first-degree murder he has been charged with. In an arraignment on Tuesday morning (Dec. 29), Van Dyke’s lawyer Dan Herbert was presented with the first round of evidence against his client, including a video recording of the shooting and transcripts, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan – who also presided over R. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography case – said that he plans to treat this case like other high-profile proceedings. This includes regular court cases, as well as meeting with the prosecuting and defense attorneys. Van Dyke was recently released on $1.5 million bond through fundraising and crowdsourcing.
“[Van Dyke] doing OK, he’s hanging in there,” Herbert said. “He wants his story to get out so that people don’t see him as this cold-blooded killer, but that’s what the trial is for.”
The 2014 shooting of McDonald gained national attention after dashcam video footage of his gruesome death hit the Web last month. Standing 15 feet away from the teenager, who was holding a knife, Officer Van Dyke fired a series of 16 shots in 13 seconds, hitting McDonald in the head, neck, chest, arms, and legs. McDonald’s great-uncle Marvin Hunter is requesting that the trial be televised.
“We now believe that it would be in the best interest of fairness and justice in this case if it was televised from gavel to gavel because we really believe that there is a culture in the county of Cook, with the Police Department and the criminal justice system, where police feel comfortable with murdering African-American people,” he said.
Van Dyke’s arraignment comes days after Chicago police shot and killed a college student and mother of five on Dec. 26. His charges are the first time an officer in the city has faced first-degree murder for an on-duty death in 35 years.