Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and misconduct in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014.
Van Dyke, who is white, entered the plea in court a month after the charges against him were announced in the killing of McDonald, who was black. The officer shot McDonald 16 times shortly after arriving at the scene on a street where other police officers had been following McDonald “as he walked the streets carrying a knife and refusing to follow orders,” as member station WBEZ has reported.
Van Dyke could face a prison sentence of 20 years to life if convicted.
On the same day the charges against Van Dyke were announced, the city complied with a court order to release dashcam video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald, setting off anger and protests in Chicago.
Since then, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into the police force’s practices, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has appointed a “police accountability task force.”
Chicago’s police force has come under new scrutiny in recent days, after two people — a 19-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman — were shot and killed by police responding to a domestic disturbance call early Saturday.
As NPR’s Cheryl Corley reported Monday, that case arose during protests and calls for Emanuel to resign.