During a short hearing on Tuesday, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of Laquan McDonald. This development follows the November release of chilling dashcam footage, which showed Van Dyke shooting the 17-year-old boy 16 times during what was said to be a “jaywalking” incident.
In the aftermath of the video’s release, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy pushed the “one-bad-apple narrative” while discussing Van Dyke’s actions. Emanuel soon dismissed McCarthy, but calls for Emanuel’s resignation aren’t quite over yet. In the meantime, Van Dyke’s attorney Dan Herbert spoke on behalf of his client:
“He wants his story to get out so that people don’t see him as this coldblooded killer. But that’s what the trial is for … He’s doing OK, he’s hanging in there. He wants his story to get out so that people don’t see him as this cold-blooded killer, but that’s what the trial is for.”
Herbert also says Van Dyke “feared for his life,” and the video isn’t an accurate representation of the entire incident:
“Video by nature is two-dimensional, and it distorts images. So what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear.”
Van Dyke’s not-guilty plea follows in the wake of another incident in Chicago. On Saturday, police shot two citizens (one “accidentally”) during a domestic disturbance call. The event prompted Emanuel to cut short his Cuban vacation to push for better police crisis training.