A Chicago police officer faces murder charges in 2014 shooting death of a black teen. Over the weekend, Chicago police killed two more black citizens and in Cleveland a grand jury dismissed murder charges against police.
A white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of a black teenager pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
Jason Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's death. He appeared in front of Judge Vincent Gaughan in Cook County Criminal Court. The next hearing is set for January 29.
Meanwhile, Cleveland police and prosecutors faced continued criticism on Tuesday, a day after a grand jury decided not to charge two white police officers in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in 2014 who was playing with a toy gun in a park. Rice was black.
Not a cold-blooded killer
Van Dyke's defense attorney, Dan Herbert, said his client is "hanging in there" and wants to tell his side of the story so that he's not seen "as this cold-blooded killer." Herbert also said he's considering asking for a change of venue.
Cook County attorneys were not available for comment after the arraignment.
Public outcry has been furious since a dashcam video was released last month showing the veteran officer shooting McDonald 16 times. The teenager, armed with a knife, was veering away from officers when Van Dyke opened fire.
Two more dead in Chicago
Over the weekend, Chicago Police killed two other people, a 55-year-old woman who was shot accidentally and a 19-year-old man whom police have said was "combative" before he was shot. The department will not say how many officers fired their weapons or what the two people were doing before they were shot.
The shootings set off more protests and led to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to cut short his family vacation to Cuba to deal with the fallout.
In Cleveland, some protesters took to social media on Tuesday to ask Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star LeBron James not to play to help pressure the US Department of Justice to get involved in an investigation, using the hashtag #NoJusticeNoLebron.
The team is scheduled to play the Denver Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday night.
Protests over the shooting of Laquan McDonald led to the resignation of Chicago's police chief and a US Department of Justice probe into whether the department use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.
A protest focusing on police issues and a call for Emanuel to resign is planned at City Hall on Thursday.
bik/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)