Special prosecutor appointed in Laquan McDonald case against Chicago officer

CHICAGO, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A Cook County judge on Thursday appointed a special prosecutor to take over the case against Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke for the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

After Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recused herself from the Van Dyke case in May, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan agreed in June to appoint a special prosecutor.

Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon was given the case on Thursday.

“It is the state’s burden — it will be, in fact, our burden — to prove this defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I and this team has one goal in this case. That is to find the truth, to present the truth, and ask that justice be served in this case,” McMahon, who has 24 years of experience as a prosecutor, said after being sworn in.

In December, Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge for the fatal shooting of McDonald. In November, a dashcam video of the shooting was released, leading to protests. Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty after the incident.

The FBI previously launched its own investigation into the shooting death of McDonald. The Chicago City Council agreed to a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family in 2015.

McDonald was shot and killed on Oct. 20, 2014, after police were called to a trucking yard to investigate a spate of attempted car burglaries. Police found McDonald about two blocks from the trucking yard with a 3-inch knife in hand.

Officers attempted to surround McDonald but he slashed one of the tires of a squad car and began jogging away, according to police. As seen in police video — Van Dyke arrived, exited his car with his gun drawn and opened fire. McDonald was shot 16 times.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office found McDonald had wounds to his chest, neck, back, arms and right leg. An autopsy later revealed McDonald had PCP in his body. There were several officers on the scene, but only Van Dyke opened fire.

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