Lawyer: Chicago officer charged in teen’s death gets threats

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Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office / MGN

CHICAGO (AP) – An attorney for a Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a teenager he shot 16 times asked a judge Wednesday to allow the officer to stop having to attend pre-trial hearings, saying each time he goes to court, he is subjected to verbal abuse and threats of violence.

“Anybody who’s been following this case knows the intense scrutiny and threats that he has received each time he enters this building and leaves this building,” Dan Herbert said of Officer Jason Van Dyke after Wednesday’s status hearing. “The violence toward my client is really affecting him.”

Van Dyke’s arrivals and departures have been watched closely by the media and have in the past been attended by dozens of protesters, who have voiced their anger at him. On Wednesday, however, there did not appear to be any protesters watching as he arrived or left the courthouse, though there were several television cameras.

Meanwhile, critics of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez continued to push the judge to order that Alvarez’s office hand the case to a special prosecutor. Alvarez came under fire for waiting more than a year to charge Van Dyke, and it did so only hours before the court-ordered release of the dashcam video showing him killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014.

The civil rights attorneys who filed the petitions on behalf of several people, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., contend that the case should be taken away from Alvarez’s office because of her political relationship with the police officers’ union and what they say is her unwillingness to aggressively prosecute police officers in misconduct and shooting cases.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan gave Alvarez’s office until May 5 to respond to the petitions. After the hearing, Herbert said it didn’t matter to him if Alvarez’ office or a special prosecutor handles the case.

Meanwhile, police said late Tuesday that charges were filed against a man in the wounding of an off-duty officer during an attempted robbery on Monday.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Samuel Harviley, 24, is charged with attempted murder. Authorities have said the officer, who was shot in the leg, was sitting in his car near his home when two men with handguns approached and said they were going to rob him.

Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante said the officer was “trying to comply” with the men’s demands but pulled out his service weapon and exchanged gunfire with at least one of them when one told the other to shoot him.

It wasn’t immediately known if Harviley has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

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