IPRA director promises more thorough investigations of police

As Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke went to court on charges that he murdered Laquan McDonald back in 2014, the new head of the agency investigating the shooting gave a progress report.

Van Dyke looked like just another defendant at his pre-trial hearing on Wednsday morning. But his attorney said outside the courtroom, the officer who shot and killed LaQuan McDonald is treated like anything but a typical defendant.

"Its truly amazing. he remains public enemy number one.," said defense attorney Dan Herbert. "The outcry is still strong against him. He has been threatened every single time he's walked in and out of the building. Told that he's going to be killed, indicating that they hoped he was raped and killed in prison."

No protesters were present at Wednesday's hearing, but Herbert  asked Judge Vincent Gaughan to excuse  Van Dyke from future pre-trial hearings, No decision was made.

Van Dyke is still under investigation by  the Independent Police Review Authority, and the agency's new director promised to conduct more thorough investigations.

"We're going to be looking at the conduct of the officer throughout that incident, we're also going to be looking at the condcut of all the officers involved in that incident, and we're going to be looking even more broadly at the system as a whole," said IPRA administrator Sharon Fairley.

Fairley said a team of outside attorneys has been hired to  audit twenty to forty past shooting investigations to see what lessons can be learned. Critics say IPRA can't be fixed and a new form of civilian review is needed.

"There is nothing that the current system of IPRA could do given its history of allowing police officers to quite literally get away with murder," said Sheila Bedi, MacArthur Justice Center: 

Sheila Bedi is also among those who have asked for a special prosecutor  to be appointed in  the Van Dyke case. They claim Anita Alvarez is too close to the Fraternal Order of Police. The judge gave Alvarez until May 5 to answer that complaint.