Tuesday morning, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to murder and misconduct charges in the shooting of 17 year old Laquan McDonald.
This high profile case started back in October of 2014 when Laquan was shot 16 times and killed by Jason Van Dyke and was caught on film. The suspended officer faces six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
The main piece of evidence in this case is the dash cam video that was released this year by a freelance journalist. The Chicago Police Department attempted to sue the journalist for releasing the video, reason being that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel thought it would jeopardize the federal probe of the case, but failed in their attempt. The judge sided with the reporter due to the fact that the shooting was over a year ago, making the video now public record.
Van Dyke is no stranger to complaints about his professionalism. He has been tried and questioned on his aggressive nature and excessive force on numerous occasions. but has always gotten off. Althought there have never been criminal proceedings against Van Dyke since this case, a jury did award a Chicago citizen $350,000 as a result of Van Dyke’s excessive force during a traffic stop.
According to Van Dyke’s attourney, Daniel Herbert, the video does not accurately depict the actions of the night. Although Laquan is clearly walking away from the officers with his hands visible, the attorney claims that the
“Video by nature is two-dimensional, and it distorts images…so what happens to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear”.
Only time will be able to tell how solid this defense is and with the current track record of cases of this magnitude, it is up in the air who will come out on top. Unfortunately, all anyone can do is wait and hope that justice is served.