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Thursday 26 April 2018

Laquan McDonald shooting: Chicago policeman denies murder

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with murder (AP)
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with murder (AP)

A white Chicago police officer charged with murder over the 2014 fatal shooting of a black teenager has pleaded not guilty.

Jason Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct over 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's death.

He appeared in front of Judge Vincent Gaughan in Cook County Criminal Court and was dressed in a dark suit and blue striped tie. The next hearing is set for January 29.

Van Dyke's defence lawyer Dan Herbert said his client is "hanging in there" and wants to tell his side of the story so that he is not seen "as this cold-blooded killer". Mr Herbert also said that they have not ruled out asking for a change of venue.

Public outcry has been furious since a dashcam video was released last month showing the veteran officer shooting Laquan 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, forced the 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 killed two other people, a 55-year-old woman who was shot accidentally and a 19-year-old man whom 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.

Several police shootings of African-Americans in the past year have sparked the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement.

Press Association

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