Thursday, 07 January, 2016

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Scheduled In Court For Arraignment

McDonald Family Lawyers Accused Police of Threatening Eyewitness
Arnold White | 02 January, 2016, 06:03

The Chicago police officer caught on dashcam video shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times to his death in October 2014 will be arraigned Tuesday morning. McDonald, who was carrying a folded 3-inch knife, is seen veering away from Van Dyke in the video before the officer starts firing.

A statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office late Tuesday night said Emanuel and Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante would announce Wednesday "a major overhaul" of the policy regarding how officers respond to incidents and the use of force.

The messages suggest that as city officials grappled with Laquan McDonald's death and the dashboard camera video that contradicted official police explanations of the shooting, a nominally independent review board tasked with investigating police shootings operated in closer coordination with the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel than was previously known.

Van Dyke, who is white, entered the plea in court a month after the charges against him were announced in the killing of McDonald, who was black.

Hunter added that he and others think there is a culture within the Cook County criminal justice system and the Chicago Police Department "where police feel comfortable with murdering African-American people".

The Chicago PD's shootings and the seeming of accountability have led to a Department of Justice investigation, just at the CPD is being rocked by the questionable shootings of Quintonio Le Grier, a college student, and Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old grandmother, who police admit was accidentally shot.

The mayor and superintendent said the city has a responsibility to reduce the chances of mistakes police officers make in potentially volatile encounters by making sure they have the proper training to avoid abuses of power.

The Chicago police department, with some 12,000 officers, now has 700 Tasers, which fire dart-like electrodes that incapacitate but are generally non-lethal.

Emanuel has denied the allegation and has repeatedly said he won't step down. Chicago police, under a federal civil rights investigation over the use of deadly force and other issues, have admitted the woman's death was an accident.

Emanuel and Chicago police have been under heavy scrutiny since the city, under court order, released the squad-car video. Officer Van Dyke told investigators that he had feared for his safety.

Van Dyke, 37, faces six counts of first-degree murder and faces up to 30 years in prison.

Protesters against gun violence and police shootings marched down Chicago's Michigan Avenue on New Year's Eve.