The Chicago police officer charged in the fatal shooting death of Laquan McDonald pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday.
Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, was indicted with six counts of first degree murder in the death of the 17-year-old, who is black. The shooting occurred in October of last year. Van Dyke is also charged with one count of official misconduct, The Chicago Tribune reports. The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29.
“Sixteen shots for one small knife, what did you think you were, a hero?” a man reportedly yelled at Van Dyke outside the courthouse. The death and video released in November have stirred protests and calls for charges against police as well as the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The video of the event shows McDonald moving away from police as he is fatally shot 16 times in the middle of the road. Authorities said McDonald had taken PCP and was carrying a pocket knife. They responded to a call that he was slashing tires.
The video quickly drew national outrage, leading to the firing of the police superintendent and calls for Emanuel’s resignation since the shooting happened over a year ago but charges were only now being brought against an officer. Emanuel, a former aide to President Barack Obama, fought to keep the video hidden from the public and has dismissed calls for his resignation. He is coming back from his family vacation in Cuba Tuesday to a very tense city.
The department is now the subject of a federal investigation.
Cook County’s chief prosecutor Anita Alvarez admits the timing of the charges against the officer involved were to make the shooting less of a scandal. They want to at least be able to point to the charges to quell outrage after people saw the video.
Chicago is already running on a questionable reputation. A Guardian investigation exposed in February that Chicago police have what amounts to a domestic black site where they allegedly torture detainees who they often hold illegally and keep from their lawyers.
A Department of Justice investigation does not guarantee any criminal convictions or disciplinary action. The DOJ investigated the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but didn’t bring any charges against officer Darren Wilson. The DOJ did find racist police practices in the department, though, and forced it into a series of corrective steps.
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