Judge agrees to appoint special prosecutor in Laquan McDonald killing

By Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune

A Cook County judge on Thursday said he will appoint a special prosecutor to try Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke for the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a case that has created a firestorm of controversy since a court-ordered release of the videotaped shooting.

Judge Vincent Gaughan had little choice but to take the action after State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez withdrew last month from the case in the face of her resounding re-election loss in the Democratic primary in March.

Gaughan said the law requires that he first contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to determine whether it will take on the prosecution. If Lisa Madigan’s office passes on the case, the judge said he will then reach out to the state appellate prosecutor’s office.


Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, reiterated his position that his client was “overcharged for political reasons” and said he hopes the new prosecutor will recognize that.

“From the beginning, we have said this was a tragedy, not a first-degree murder,” Herbert said in a statement.

Gaughan said he was not yet ready to rule on a petition to appoint another special prosecutor to investigate several Chicago police officers who were at the scene of McDonald’s shooting and whose written reports dramatically differed from what the police dashboard-camera video showed.

“This is not yet shovel-ready,” said the judge, who indicated the petition involved more complicated issues.

Gaughan said no county grand jury is investigating the officers and that federal authorities “haven’t said much” about their probe.

Attorney Locke Bowman, representing a coalition that sought a special prosecutor, said it was “disappointing” that no grand jury is investigating those officers more than six months after the release of the video shooting.

(c)2016 Chicago Tribune


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