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Judge Casts Statewide Net To Find Prosecutor For Murder Case Against Cop

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke may have to wait until August to find out who will be the special prosecutor in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17. A community coalition is asking for a team of prosecutors from the city and for the case to expand to officers who allegedly tried to cover up what happened to McDonald.

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Jason Van Dyke

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.

Nancy Stone

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke will have to wait another five weeks to find out who will prosecute him on murder charges in connection with the shooting of African American teenager Laquan McDonald.

At a brief hearing Thursday, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan said he will name a special prosecutor at an August 4 hearing. To see who is available, Gaughan said he has contacted every state’s attorney’s office in Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office and the state appellate prosecutor’s office.

“We have sent out notices and letters to each and every one of these units,” Gaughan said, adding that the law requires any agency he appoints to cover the prosecution costs.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez withdrew her office from the case May 5 after accusations that her ties to police officers posed a conflict of interest. She insisted there was no conflict but said the recusal would help “avoid unnecessary legal delays and provide continuity in the handling of this very important and complicated case.”

A community coalition is asking for a team of prosecutors from Chicago and for the case to expand to officers accused of a cover-up after the shooting. Gaughan is holding a hearing on those requests Friday.

Van Dyke allegedly fired 16 shots into McDonald on October 20, 2014. More than a year later, a court ordered the city to release a dashboard-camera video of the shooting. The video sparked a public outcry, calls for a police-accountability overhaul, and a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the city’s policing.

Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, declined to comment on his way out of the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday. He said a “gag order” had been issued in the case.

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