- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors are challenging a request by a white Chicago police officer to be allowed to skip routine hearings in a murder case in which he’s charged with killing a black teenager.

Lawyers for Jason Van Dyke asked a judge last month to waive his presence in court, saying prior appearances resulted in threats of violence against him.

Van Dyke is accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The shooting has prompted a federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department. A task force appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has recommended wholesale reforms of the department.

Cook County prosecutors said that while verbal threats and taunts may make Van Dyke uncomfortable, “mere words do not jeopardize defendant’s personal safety.”

No protesters were present at Van Dyke’s court appearance last month.

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