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Special Prosecutor Named For Laquan McDonald Murder Case

A special prosecutor has been appointed in the case of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is charged with murder in the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald. Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon will now prosecute the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recused herself in May because of accusations that she was too close to Chicago’s police union. McMahon says his team has served as special prosecutor in other cases in DuPage, McHenry and Kendall counties. Van Dyke’s legal team says they’re ready to defend the case no matter who the prosecutor is.

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Jason Van Dyke approaches the bench at a hearing Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago. Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon was sworn in as the independent attorney to prosecute Van Dyke, charged with first-degree murder last year in the 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald.

Jason Van Dyke approaches the bench at a hearing in August at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago.

Nancy Stone

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge appointed a suburban Chicago state’s attorney to handle the murder case against the Chicago police officer who shot black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, video of which led to large protests and the eventual ouster of the city’s police superintendent.

At a hearing, Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan swore-in Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon to handle the prosecution of Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder last year in the 2014 killing of McDonald just hours before authorities released the police dashcam video showing him repeatedly shooting the teenager.

The appointment comes weeks after outgoing Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez requested that a special prosecutor handle the politically charged case.

The city resisted releasing the dashcam video of the shooting for more than a year and did so only after a court ordered it to do so. Once released, the video sparked large protests and helped force the ouster of Chicago’s last police superintendent, Garry McCarthy.

Earlier Thursday, the Chicago Police Department said it would release videos related to a fatal police shooting last week of an 18-year-old suspect, Paul O’Neal.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the videos will be available online at 11 a.m. Friday on the website of the city agency that investigates police misconduct.

The department’s current superintendent, Eddie Johnson, relieved three officers of their police powers after the July 28 shooting after officials said a preliminary determination concluded they had violated department policy.

Earlier this week, the department said it was investigating after it was found that the body camera of an officer involved in the shooting wasn’t recording at the time.

Autopsy results show that O’Neal, of Chicago, died of a gunshot wound to the back during a stolen vehicle investigation.

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