Chicago officer who shot black teen pleads not guilty
CHICAGO: The Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager last year pleaded not guilty to murder , as Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut short a vacation to return to the city to deal with the fallout from two more fatal police shootings over the weekend.
Meanwhile, protesters demonstrated outside the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office in Cleveland, a day after a grand jury decided not to charge two white police officers in the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy who was playing in a park with a toy gun that shoots plastic pellets.
Tensions over race and policing in Chicago and Cleveland come amid intense scrutiny of police killings in the United States over the past 18 months, especially of black men.
Protests have taken place around the country and the issue has fuelled a civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, faces six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct for killing Laquan McDonald, 17, in October 2014.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges at the Cook County criminal court in Chicago. Van Dyke’s lawyer said he may ask for a change of venue.
“We’re certainly going to explore every opportunity we have in order for my client to have a fair trial,” attorney Daniel Herbert said after the hearing.
The release last month of a video of the shooting, which shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times, set off a wave of protests and calls for Emanuel’s resignation.
The mayor fired the police chief and the Justice Department is investigating whether the city’s police use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.
Over the weekend, another Chicago police officer fatally shot two black people, setting off more protests, and prompting Emanuel to cut short a family vacation to Cuba.
Bettie Jones, 55, a mother of five, and college student Quintonio LeGrier, 19, were killed on Saturday by an officer responding to a call that LeGrier was threatening his father with a baseball bat. Police said Jones was killed by accident.
Friends and relatives of LeGrier wrapped blue and white balloons around a basketball goal during a candlelight vigil on Tuesday across the street from the high school he graduated from in 2014.
Gathered in the snowy street, they remembered LeGrier as a loving, generous, optimistic person and a good outfielder in baseball.— Reuters