The Chicago police officer caught on dashcam video shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times to his death in October 2014 pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday morning.
Van Dyke appeared before Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan just before 10 a.m., pleading not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct. He was harassed by at least one heckler on his way into the courtroom.
Van Dyke’s attorney Dan Herbert called the proceedings an "important day" in the case, adding that transcripts and video evidence were released to the defense.
"The evidence will come in slowly," Herbert said. "We received a piece of evidence today and that will be a continuous process for probably the next several months until motions are filed, and we look forward to having a trial."
Officer Jason Van Dyke Enters Not Guilty Plea
Van Dyke has been free on $1.5 million bond since Nov. 30 after spending six nights in Cook County, Illinois, jail. He was charged hours before video of McDonald’s shooting death went public, sparking weeks of demonstrations and unrest in Chicago.
Herbert previously argued the video does not tell the whole story and said Van Dyke feared for his life, which is why he fired his weapon. He added that although Van Dyke has said nothing following his brief appearances in court, the officer hopes his side of the story will soon be heard.
"(Van Dyke) wants his story to get out so that people don’t see him as this cold-blooded killer, and that’s what the trial is for," Herbert said.
The officer has not been to Chicago’s criminal courts building since earlier this month. As Van Dyke left the courthouse Dec. 18, several groups of people shouted profanities and pounded on the black pickup truck he was riding in before it pulled away.
The case has been widely publicized, with even Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasting the Chicago officer.
Emanuel previously told reporters, "Van Dyke violated both the standards of professionalism that come with being a police officer but also basic moral standards that bind our community together."
Herbert said after the December hearing he was considering requesting a change of venue because of Emanuel's criticism. He noted Tuesday that they are still considering the move.
"It’s something that’s not routinely done. In Cook County it hasn’t been done in decades," Herbert said. "I think with the current events and specifically the comments by the mayor in this case, not just on a day but continuing throughout the last few weeks, we intend to seek a change of venue. And quite frankly Exhibit A is going to be the mayor and his comments and we’re going to have to find a county that is outside the reach of the mayor’s comments."
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