Chicago officer pleads not guilty to murder charges

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Criminal Courts Building Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during his arraignment. Van Dyke, who is no longer being paid, has been free since posting bond. (Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT, NO SALES; CHICAGO TRIBUNE OUT

CHICAGO (AP) — A white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Jason Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in the 17-year-old’s death. The officer appeared in front of Judge Vincent Gaughan in Cook County Criminal Court wearing a dark suit and blue striped tie. The next hearing is set for Jan. 29.

Van Dyke’s defense attorney, Dan Herbert, said his client is “hanging in there” and wants to tell his side of the story so that he’s not seen “as this cold-blooded killer.” Herbert also said that they haven’t ruled out asking for a change of venue.

Cook County attorneys were not available for comment after the arraignment.

Public outcry has been furious since a dashcam video was released last month showing the veteran officer shooting McDonald 16 times. The teenager, armed with a knife, was veering away from officers when Van Dyke opened fire.

The footage sparked days of street demonstrations, the forced resignation of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and a broad federal civil rights investigation of the Police Department’s practices and how allegations of officer misconduct are handled.

Over the weekend, Chicago police shot and killed two other people, a 55-year-old woman who was shot accidentally and a 19-year-old man who police have said was “combative” before he was shot. The department will not say how many officers fired their weapons or what the two people were doing before they were shot.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been the target of heavy criticism and calls for his resignation since the McDonald video was released, is due to return Tuesday afternoon from a family vacation in Cuba.

Herbert, the lawyer for Van Dyke, said policy changes in the Chicago Police Department, which Emanuel’s office has hinted at and may include more education, would be beneficial.

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