March , 2019

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Court appointee would take over prosecution of officer accused of killing Laquan McDonald


SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement:

Today I join with a coalition of community leaders to ask the Cook County Circuit Court to appoint a special prosecutor to take over prosecution of the Chicago police officer accused of killing Laquan McDonald. This appointee would also be tasked with investigating the possibility that the circumstances of the 17-year-old’s death were misrepresented, covered up and hidden from the public.

I do not take this step lightly. Normally, the state’s attorney should have the power to prosecute and to investigate, but given the unexplained delay in bringing charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke, citizens of Cook County cannot rely on State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to conduct a vigorous prosecution or a thorough and unbiased investigation.

Members of the public must be confident that justice will be served, particularly where the accountability of law enforcement is at stake. Serious questions about the state’s attorney’s credibility in this matter have frayed the necessary bonds of trust between the public and its justice system and demand fresh leadership in the Van Dyke prosecution. This avenue is made possible by a new provision in state law, part of a law enforcement reform package I sponsored to improve public safety by strengthening accountability and building trust. While one would hope that the state’s attorney would recognize the harm her actions – and inactions – have done and would voluntarily step aside, she appears determined not do what is best for the delivery of justice in this case. We must therefore ask the court to intervene.

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