The white Chicago policeman charged with murder in the shooting death of a black teenager will seek a change of venue, arguing that comments Mayor Rahm Emanuel made jeopardize his chances of a fair trial, the Associated Press reports. Officer Jason Van Dyke appeared at a preliminary court hearing, facing six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The judge scheduled his arraignment for Dec. 29. Release of a video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times has triggered protests, forced the resignation of the city’s police commissioner and put the police department under a wide-ranging civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Defense attorney Dan Herbert said he intends to seek a change of venue because of remarks Emanuel has made in several public appearances. “The mayor has continued to indict my client in the press and before the City Council for the last couple of weeks,” Herbert said. The mayor has faced calls to resign from protesters who accuse City Hall, the police and the state’s attorney of a cover-up because the city fought for months to keep the video from being released. A judge ordered the city to make the images public. When that happened, Emanuel said, “We hold our police officers to a high standard and obviously in this case, Jason Van Dyke violated both the standards of professionalism that come with being a police officer but also basic moral standards that bind our community together.”