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Judge to give verdict in Chicago police conspiracy trial

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Three Chicago policemen accused of conspiring to protect white fellow police officer Jason Van Dyke after he murdered a black teenager in 2014 will learn their fates on Thursday when a judge is due to give her verdict in their trial.

Van Dyke was found guilty in October of shooting Laquan McDonald, 17, in one of a series of police killings of black men and teens that has raised questions about the use of deadly force by police and sparked a series of sometimes violent street protests across the United States.

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Judge Domenica Stephenson of the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County is expected to give her ruling on David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney at a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. CST (1900 GMT). The trial began on Nov. 27.

The defendants – who have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice – face up to five years in prison for official misconduct, up to three years in prison for obstruction of justice and up to three or five years in prison for conspiracy.

Stephenson’s decision comes after a jury in October found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of McDonald, who was in possession of a knife when he was shot 16 times.

A dashboard camera video released in 2015 – more than a year after the shooting – provided the evidence to convict Van Dyke in a case that laid bare tensions between the black community and police in the third-largest U.S. city.

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Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes has said Van Dyke’s colleagues offered accounts of the deadly incident that conflicted with video to shield Van Dyke from prosecution. Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution’s case lacks evidence.

The Van Dyke verdict was the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer was held criminally accountable for the killing of an African-American. The conviction followed numerous acquittals or mistrials of police officers facing criminal charges across the country in the deaths of black men.

The video of McDonald’s shooting prompted days of protests, the ouster of the city’s police superintendent and calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

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Van Dyke, 40, is in jail awaiting sentencing, which is expected on Friday. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot he fired at McDonald.

Walsh and March, who was a detective, are no longer with the police force. Gaffney was suspended without pay.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, editing by G Crosse

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump-loving neo-Nazi charged with insanely violent threats against Latino woman

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Federal agents arrested a Washington state man who allegedly threatened to "exterminate" Latinos as part of a race war he believed would be launched by President Donald Trump.

According to court documents, Eric Lin frequently praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler online and sent multiple death threats against a woman in Miami and plotted to pay a man to beat her up, reported the Miami New Times.

"The time will come when Miami will burn to the ground — and every Latin Man will be lined up against a Wall and Shot and every Latin Woman Raped or Cut to Pieces," Lin wrote Aug. 8, according to investigators.

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Republican senator heckled and booed during raucous town hall for blaming mass shootings on mental illness

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Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who is up for reelection in 2020 and is among the Republican senators who is considered vulnerable, discussed the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio during a town hall event in her home state this week —and she was booed and heckled when she echoed President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and blamed “mental illness” for the killings.

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Republicans likely to block ‘background checks’ after Trump’s abrupt reversal: report

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After two mass shootings over one weekend, President Donald Trump signaled that he would be open to strengthening background checks.

He promptly dropped his resolve to sign gun regulations one week later when he said that there were already strong background checks on the books.

With the president's apparent reversal, Republicans in Congress also appear to be abandoning legislation, reports Politico.

“I really don’t see the dynamic having really changed there much,” Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson told Politico. “I don’t anticipate we’re going to pass a federal red flag law."

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