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Judge Won't Toss Murder Charges Against Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 25, 2017 6:25PM

Jason Van Dyke, 2015 / Getty Images

Defense attorneys seeking to dismiss first-degree murder charges former police offer Jason Van Dyke saw their petition denied by Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan on Thursday, according to reports.

Van Dyke is accused of murder in the infamous, fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. He faces six counts of murder in the first degree. Last March it was revealed that prosecutors had also hit Van Dyke with 16 counts of of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Van Dyke's attorney, Daniel Herbert, argued that his client's actions constituted "business as usual" in terms of use of force since McDonald was allegedly carrying a knife; and that former State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's decision to pursue murder charges were the result of political heat that stemmed from rampant public fallout, according to the Sun-Times. Alvarez lost her reelection bid to Kim Foxx, and the Van Dyke case is now being overseen by prosecutor Joseph McMahon.

Several protesters reportedly gathered both outside and inside the courtroom on Thursday. There was a metal detector set up before the courtroom entrance; and one demonstrator, identified as Moises Bernal by DNAinfo, was held in contempt after snapping his fingers at the judge's decision. Tribune reporter Megan Crepeau tweeted details in the thread below:

McDonald was shot 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014; but video of the shooting wasn't released to the public until more than a year later, in November 2015, immediately prior to Van Dyke being charged. The video sparked a massive wave of public protest and ultimately a yearlong investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The bombshell results of that federal probe found that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of using force—including use of deadly force—that violates the Constitution.

You can check out coverage of today's courtroom decision in the Sun-Times and DNAinfo.