Lawyers for the Chicago cop who shot and killed Black teenager Laquan McDonald two years ago asked a judge in Cook County to allow Jason Van Dyke to skip court appearances, according to The Root. Attorney Dan Herbert said Van Dyke received death threats and faced violence whenever he has come to court, The Associated Press reports.
In Herbert’s four-page report, it states Van Dyke has had protesters blast the sounds of sirens near him, flash gang signs and call him the racial slur “white devil.” It also claims that his “personal safety has been jeopardized” and that the media and activists outside of the courthouse intimidate the police officer. Journalists reportedly helped others block Van Dyke’s entrance into Leighton Criminal Courthouse on previous occasions. This time, however, neither they nor protesters were present at Wednesday’s hearing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Van Dyke violently killed McDonald in October 2014 by shooting the Black teenager 16 times, continuing to fire after the victim collapsed onto the street. Van Dyke told investigators at the time that he had feared for his safety. After he was arrested and charged, police in Chicago were faced with pleas for change, according to The New York Times.
ABC-7 reported that Marvin Hunter, McDonalds’ great uncle, described the teen as a “gentle giant” in the week following his death. In that same gentle manner, protesters took to downtown Chicago in response to the release of dashcam video footage, which showed McDonald’s graphic murder, CNN reported.
Now, as Van Dyke is allegedly threatened with violence before his status hearings for McDonald’s murder, he seeks to skip them for his own sake.