Officer Jason Van Dyke pleads not guilty in death of Laquan McDonald – Chicago Tribune

The Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald entered a not-guilty plea at his arraignment Tuesday morning.

Jason Van Dyke appeared for the first time in front of Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan, who was assigned to hear his case. His lawyer, Dan Herbert, entered the plea at a brief hearing.

Van Dyke posted the required 10 percent of a $1.5 million bond and was freed from Cook County Jail last month. He was indicted earlier this month on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct for fatally shooting McDonald.

Gaughan has handled previous high-profile cases, including the 2008 trial of singer R. Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges, and the 2009 trial of James Degorski, convicted in the 1993 mass murder of seven people at a Brown’s Chicken.

On Tuesday morning, Van Dyke answered “here” when his name was called and walked before Judge Leroy Martin, the presiding judge at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. Martin instructed a clerk to run Van Dyke’s name through a program to randomly assign his case to a trial judge. A few seconds later, the clerk said Gaughan’s courtroom had been selected.

There was a brief recess while Van Dyke consulted with Herbert before they returned to the bench and told Martin they would remain with Gaughan as the trial judge. All defendants have the option to have their case reassigned once to another judge.

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