Judge to Decide Location of Jason Van Dyke’s Murder Trial

A judge was expected to decide Friday if the trial of the Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald will remain in Cook County.

Defense attorneys for Jason Van Dyke have asked for the trial to be moved outside the Chicago area, insisting that extensive publicity on the high-profile case would make it impossible for a fair jury to be selected in Cook County.

On Tuesday, they also made a request for a different judge to make the decision, but that request was denied.

Judge Vincent Gaughan will decide whether the case will be moved, just over two weeks after he ruled that Van Dyke's trial would begin Sept. 5 in Cook County.

Van Dyke was captured on dashcam video shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times the night of Oct. 20, 2014, on the city's Southwest Side. He was charged with six counts of first-degree murder in November 2015, and 16 counts of aggravated battery in March 2017.

Van Dyke entered a plea of not guilty.

Attorneys for Van Dyke had also previously filed motions to dismiss murder charges against the officer, saying a grand jury "hastily" indicted him based on false information and that the shooting was in fact "justified."

A judge declined to dismiss the murder charges in May 2017.

Public outcry in the case sparked change at the Chicago Police Department and beyond, from the firing of then-Supt. Garry McCarthy to the electoral ousting of former State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, as well as the creation of the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability to investigate officer-involved shootings.

Three other Chicago police officers were also charged with multiple felonies - conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice - for allegedly attempting to prevent or shape the investigation, special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said in June 2017.

Dashcam video of McDonald's shooting was released in December 2015, sparking widespread protests that have continued at Van Dyke's court hearings.

In August 2016, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson recommended Van Dyke's firing to the Chicago Police Board, who granted a motion to halt the proceedings until the criminal case against Van Dyke was complete. He remains suspended from the department without pay.

In a pre-trial hearing scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., the defense was expected to have an expert testify on a recent poll they conducted which shows that the dashcam video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald has been seen by more than 70 percent of residents.

The defense asked to be given four hours for the expert to testify, a request the judge declined, citing historical speeches in his decision that two hours would suffice.

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