Anita Alvarez asks for special prosecutor in Laquan McDonald murder case

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By Jessica D’Onofrio , Leah Hope and Tanja Babich, abc7chicago.com

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asked Thursday to be recused from the Laquan McDonald murder case and for a special prosecutor to be appointed.

Dashcam video released in November 2015 shows the black teen was shot 16 times by a Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder shortly after the video was released.

Civil rights attorneys and activists have criticized Alvarez for waiting over a year to charge Van Dyke and want her to be removed from the case. Alvarez has defended her handling of police cases.

Judge Vincent Gaughan said at a status hearing Thursday that he will rule on June 2 on the motion for a special prosecutor and on whether Alvarez can recuse herself.

Despite his attorney’s request to waive his presence at future status hearings, the judge also ruled Thursday that Van Dyke will have to appear in court.

Defense Attorney Daniel Herbert had previously filed a motion for Van Dyke to be excused from attending routine hearings, to avoid the threats and angry protesters that greet him any time he is scheduled to be at the Cook County courthouse.

Prosecutors said Thursday that the protests have died down and that the judge should not excuse Van Dyke.

Judge Gaughan said Thursday that Van Dyke will have to come to court. He also said extra security measures have been arranged for Van Dyke as he enters and exits the courthouse. He did not explain the plan in detail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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