The lawyer for a Chicago police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a black teenager says he has asked the court to allow the officer not to attend hearings.
Attorney Dan Herbert said after a hearing Wednesday that Officer Jason Van Dyke has received threats of violence and death when he comes to court. Herbert argued his client's family has been threatened, his car has been vandalized and he has received death threats.
"Every single court date he has had threats against him," Herbert said. "Individuals who are with him, his father, have been physically battered. They had their vehicle damaged, somebody smashed their vehicle, we filed a police report. One individual has had to go to the hospital."
Van Dyke is charged with murder in the October 2014 killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. He shot the teen 16 times.
"We are still amazed at the appetite, the venom toward my client in this case," Herbert said. "it is truly amazing. He remains public enemy number one."
Also in court Wednesday, two groups asked Judge Vincent Gaughan to appoint a special prosecutor in the case.
"Not only to take over the Van Dyke prosecution, but also to take over investigations with the officers who lied on their reports and may have well lied in front of the grand jury as well," said Flint Taylor with People's Law Office, one of the groups seeking the special prosecutor.
The judge set a May 5 deadline for prosecutors to respond to a request by civil rights attorneys and others to assign the case to a special prosecutor. Herbert says he would be fine with either a special prosecutor or Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office handling the case.
"Quite frankly, whoever that prosecutor is, we know that my client is going to continue to be public enemy number one, so it doesn't make that much difference to us," Herbert said. "We will be ready to go no matter who is on the other side."