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Chicago policeman defends shooting of black teen at trial

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The white Chicago police officer who shot to death a black teenager in 2014 told jurors at his murder trial on Tuesday that he felt threatened when he opened fire, as he took the witness stand in his own defense.

Jason Van Dyke, 40, is accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times and faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct in a case that has focused attention on race relations and policing in the third-largest U.S. city.

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He is the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades.

Wiping tears away at times, Van Dyke testified that McDonald “never stopped” advancing toward Van Dyke, getting about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) away from him.

“His face had no expression,” Van Dyke said under questioning from his lawyer. “His eyes were buggin’ out.”

McDonald waved his knife and was still holding the knife when he fell to the ground, Van Dyke said, adding that he shot at the knife. Van Dyke said he did not know how many shots he fired at the time and stopped shooting when McDonald fell.

“I’m yelling at him, ‘Drop that knife,’” Van Dyke said. “I just wanted him to get rid of that knife.”

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Prosecutors have said Van Dyke was not justified in shooting McDonald. Jurors have repeatedly viewed a video of the incident, which prosecutors have argued clearly shows that McDonald was not moving toward Van Dyke at the time he began firing.

The public release of the video, which came after a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, sparked days of protests in Chicago.

Van Dyke’s lawyers have portrayed McDonald as an unruly, threatening criminal who was under the influence of drugs.

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Van Dyke also told jurors he had drawn his gun several times in his career but had never fired his gun in the line of duty before the Oct. 20, 2014 incident. “I’m very proud of that,” he said.

The testimony came during the trial’s third week. The 12-person jury includes one black member.

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Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Joseph Ax, Matthew Lewis and Bill Berkrot


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Conservatives rage after Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright compares armed protest to Klan rally

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Actor Jeffrey Wright kicked a hornet's nest of conservative fury by comparing an armed protest in Virginia to a Ku Klux Klan rally.

The star of HBO's Westworld three James Bond films mocked the Richmond gun rally in a tweet, which linked to a Washington Post article on the armed demonstration, and noted the event was scheduled on Martin Luther King Day.

“The organizers aren’t at all bothered that a gun circle jerk in Richmond, VA on #MLKDay has a Klan-rally smell to it?" Wright tweeted. "Wonder why."

The organizers aren’t at all bothered that a gun circle jerk in Richmond, VA on #MLKDay has a Klan-rally smell to it? Wonder why. https://t.co/1kq9pu1is1

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Trump’s legal team calls on Senate Republicans to ‘swiftly reject’ the impeachment charges and acquit him: report

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In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before his impeachment trial begins, President Trump's legal team called on Republicans to "swiftly reject" the charges against him and bring an acquittal, the New York Times reports. According to the lawyers, Trump committed no crime and is the victim of a partisan witch hunt.

Trump's lawyers labeled the impeachment effort against Trump as a “brazenly political act” that was brought about by a “rigged process” that should be rejected by the Senate. However, nowhere in the brief do they deny that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine's government to investigate his political rivals -- which is the core basis for impeachment. Instead, the lawyers argue that Trump can conduct business with foreign governments however he sees fit, adding that allegations that Trump abused his power are simply a "novel theory."

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‘Dead wrong’: House Dems release scathing rebuttal to White House’s widely panned legal brief

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The Trump White House's latest defense of the president ahead of his impending impeachment trial has been widely panned, and has even sparked speculation that Trump himself had a hand in writing it due to its low-grade legal analysis.

A legal brief filed by President Donald Trump's lawyers late last week called impeachment proceedings "constitutionally invalid," even though impeachment is literally a part of the Constitution, and also accused Democrats of engaging in a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election," even though Vice President Mike Pence would take over in the event that Trump was removed by the Senate.

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