New Charges for Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald

Sixteen counts of aggravated assault—one per bullet—in addition to murder.

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke at a court hearing in February.Antonio Perez/AP

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Prosecutors have announced that Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke will face additional criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Van Dyke, 38, was indicted last week on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm—one count, apparently, for each bullet he fired at McDonald. The charges were announced Thursday morning. The new indictment—which also includes charges of first-degree murder and misconduct—replaces the original indictment.

Van Dyke was initially charged in late 2015, more than a year after the shooting, after a judge ordered the release of police dash-cam footage. Protests rocked Chicago for days. Last August, Chicago’s police chief Eddie Johnson recommended that several officers be fired or suspended over their conduct involving the McDonald shooting and investigation.

Last August, Chicago’s former top prosecutor Anita Alvarez—whose handling of the case may have cost her her job—turned the case over to special prosecutor Joseph McMahon. Van Dyke’s lawyers have tried to have the original charges against him dismissed, arguing that Alvarez tainted the original grand jury proceedings with “irregularities” while under intense pressure from the public and city officials to secure charges. On Thursday, the officer’s lawyers said in court that they saw the special prosecutor’s decision to replace the original indictment as acknowledgement that the grand jury process was riddled with problems. They also said they would file a motion to dismiss the new indictment. Van Dyke’s next court date has been set for April 20.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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