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Cop Charged With Murder Of Laquan McDonald Plans To Seek Change Of Venue

Updated 12/18/15 - 2:44 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The lawyer for the Chicago police officer charged with the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald said he plans to ask for a change of venue before trial, claiming Mayor Rahm Emanuel's criticism of his client has tainted the potential jury pool.

A Cook County grand jury indicted Officer Jason Van Dyke on six counts of murder and one count of official misconduct on Tuesday, three weeks after prosecutors filed the original murder charge against him.

Van Dyke appeared before Cook County Judge James R. Brown, who scheduled the officer's arraignment for Dec. 29, when he will enter a formal plea to the charges. The case also was transferred to the presiding judge of the criminal division, who will assign a trial judge before Van Dyke's arraignment.

The indictment accuses Van Dyke of shooting McDonald without lawful justification, knowing his actions created a strong possibility of death. The official misconduct charge essentially says, while acting as an officer of the law, Van Dyke willingly broke the law.

The seven-count indictment against Van Dyke came as no surprise to his attorney, Daniel Herbert, who said he intends to file a motion asking for a change of venue based on the massive amount of pretrial publicity, much of which he believes has come from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"Quite frankly Exhibit A is going to be the mayor and his comments, and we're going to have to find a county that is outside of the reach of the mayor's comments," Herbert said.


Van Dyke's attorney said the mayor has essentially been trying to convict Van Dyke in the court of public opinion.

"I understand the mayor has a job to do, but quite frankly I was upset that the comments continued to go on and on and on," Herbert said. "The outrage in this case by the mayor seems to be a little bit selective, in my opinion. The outrage seems to have been fueled by the media, and the public's outcry. There are equally egregious things going on where we don't have any outcry."

Herbert acknowledged a change of venue is extremely rare, saying it hasn't been done in Cook County in decades, but he said all the pretrial publicity has potentially tainted the jury pool.

CBS 2 Legal analyst Irv Miller tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says a judge could try to pull jurors from another jurisdiction, such as Rockford. He expressed doubt the trial itself would be moved.

"It's still going to be tried at 26th and California," Miller said, referring to Cook County's criminal courts building.

McDonald's uncle, Marvin Hunter, said the family also is hoping for a change of venue for Van Dyke's trial. They also want federal oversight of the case.

"We feel that we have the police policing the police, and we would like for some federal oversight, so that we feel that we can at least get a fair trial for our family member," he said.

Van Dyke turned himself in on Nov. 24, when Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez charged him with murder. Hours later, the city released police dashboard camera video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, as McDonald was walking away from police.

Herbert has said Van Dyke feared for his life and the lives of his fellow officers, and the video of the incident doesn't tell the whole story. While several officers who were at the scene when McDonald was shot reported he was aggressively swinging a knife at Van Dyke, video of the shooting shows the teen walking away from police when he was shot.

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