A group of activists, attorneys and elected officials say they want a special prosecutor to take over the Laquan McDonald investigation, but Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez says that’s not necessary.
This is not the first time that the idea of a special prosecutor has been brought up regarding the McDonald case: It’s been suggested by the activists who filled Chicago streets and government buildings, and it’s appeared on the campaign trail as Alvarez fights to keep her job.
But this week, lawyers filed a petition in court because they say they don’t trust Alvarez to vigorously prosecute police officers. The coalition is asking a judge to allow a special prosecutor to take over case against Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, and to investigate other cops who were on the scene.
“We are acting on behalf of the community. On behalf of the cries that have talked about the injustice in this case,” said Flint Taylor, attorney with the People’s Law office. His work lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.
“It’s only when the people had an outcry that we had a special prosecutor in the Burge case. It’s only when we had a public outcry that we have a special prosecutor in the Vanecko Koschman case. And we stand here again with those voices, strong and loud,” he said.
Attorney Locke Bowman, another member of the coalition, said the call for a special prosecutor is not about the election.
“Let me say this loud and clear. This has nothing to do with Kim Foxx. This has nothing to do with the current political process that’s underway,” Bowman said.
Alvarez begs to differ. In a statement, she says the timing of this announcement, less than a month before the primary election, is “more than a little coincidental.”
As for the need for someone else to prosecute the Van Dyke case, Alvarez says she’s brought charges against 96 law enforcement officers when those charges were appropriate and says this case is no different.
Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.