Lawyer for Chicago police officer says video 'distorts images' - CNN

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Chicago Police Release Video of Laquan McDonald Shooting

Nov 25 (Reuters) - The lawyer for a white Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 murder of a black teenager said on Wednesday his client feared for his life and that dashboard camera footage released by police is unreliable because video "distorts images."

Daniel Herbert told CNN that Officer Jason Van Dyke arrived at the scene 18 minutes after a suspect carrying a knife was reported to have threatened businesses and vandalized police cruisers. Prosecutors said Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times only 30 seconds after he arrived.

READ MORE: Chicago charges officer in black teen's death, releases video of shooting

"The reason my client Jason fired his weapon that evening back in October 2014 is that he truly was in fear for his life as well as the lives of his fellow police officers," Herbert said.

The Chicago shooting charges followed more than a year of unrest across the United States over police shootings of black men that was sparked after the August 2014 killing of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri.

The video of the McDonald shooting, shot by a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car and made public on Tuesday under orders from a judge, prompted mostly peaceful street demonstrations in Chicago. Van Dyke, the first Chicago police officer to face a murder charge for an on-duty incident in decades, was charged hours before the video was released.

Authorities said McDonald was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he was killed.

Photos of the protests in Chicago following the video release:

25 PHOTOS
Protests in Chicago following Laquan McDonald shooting by police conviction
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Lawyer for Chicago police officer says video 'distorts images' - CNN
Two men are detained near Pioneer Court on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders held a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Apple store employees, top, look to protesters lined up outside the Apple store on North Michigan Avenue, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders held a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" on Black Friday in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Protesters make their way up North Michigan Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders hold a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Iggy Flow, right, talks to police officers on North Michigan Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders hold a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Lamon Reccord, right, stares and yells at a Chicago police officer "Shoot me 16 times" as he and others march through Chicago's Loop Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, one day after murder charges were brought against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, a protester holds a sign as people rally for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Department Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. McDonald, whose name demonstrators are shouting as they march the streets and plan to shut down the cityâs glitziest shopping corridor on Friday, lived a troubled life full of disadvantages and at least one previous brush with the law. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)
Protesters form a line and walk holding signs that spell out 'Laquan' following the release of a dash-cam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 2015, in Chicago. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Demonstrators sit in Michigan Ave. along Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile shopping district, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, during a protest the day after murder charges were brought against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters gesture near Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago police form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters take to the streets in Chicago following the release of a dash-cam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 2015. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators confront police during a protest following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Chicago Police form a line to keep a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald from entering Grant Park, early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago police form a line to prevent protestors from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Authorities form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Police stand guard as demonstrators march through downtown during a protest following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Protesters scuffle with Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters scuffle with Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Bus passengers watch as demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Authorities form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Protesters shut down a street during a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters shut down a street during a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters march during a demonstration for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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Prosecutors said Van Dyke fired the 16 shots within 30 seconds of arriving and just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car, emptying his gun at McDonald and preparing to reload. Herbert told CNN his client was afraid McDonald was going to attack him with a knife.

Herbert said the video was not an indicator of his client's guilt.

"Video by its nature is 2-dimensional. It distorts images. So what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear," Herbert said.

Chicago Alderman Emma Mitts told MSNBC on Wednesday the video does not show anything that would justify the shooting and said Van Dyke's conduct was "just unacceptable."

Mitts said McDonald's family had not wanted the video made public but now wants action taken.

"There's a pain that the family is feeling," she said. "The family don't want to relive that pain over again. We expect change."

The release of the video itself has been controversial.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton criticized Chicago city officials for blocking the video, which was made public only after an independent journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Check out the demographics of Chicago, IL:

Sharpton, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, called for a special prosecutor to handle the case "because the politics here needs to be investigated."

The Chicago Police Department had argued that releasing the video would taint multiple investigations.

"Investigations of police shootings and misconduct are highly complex matters that carry with them very unique legal issues, that must be fully examined and taken into consideration," Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez said on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, appearing on CNN, said rising violence in big cities makes it hard to be a police officer. However, Bush said, "When they do what appears to have happened here they should be charged as was the case in this case." (Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago and Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)

Photos from the Jason Van Dyke case:

15 PHOTOS
Laquan McDonald Shooting, Jason Van Dyke
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Lawyer for Chicago police officer says video 'distorts images' - CNN
CHICAGO, IL - UNDATED: In this handout provided by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested for the shooting death of an African-American teen in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Cook County State's Attorney's Office via Getty Images)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, middle, leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald falls to the ground after being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
A memorial to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and other victims of violence at the Sullivan House Alternative High School in Chicago is seen on April 17, 2015. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. A judge has ordered the video of the shooting to be made public. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, to possibly face charges for the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez leaves after speaking to the media about Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This undated autopsy diagram provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office shows the location of wounds on the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot by a Chicago Police officer 16 times in 2014. A judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of the shooting. The officer has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty. (Cook County Medical Examiner via AP)
Rev. Jesse Jackson right, hugs Fred Hampton Jr., left, after a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. Hampton's father Fred Hampton Sr. was the Illinois chapter President of the Black Panther Party and was shot and killed in 1969. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appear at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 24, death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The city then released the dash-cam video of the shooting to media outlets after the news conference. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to the media during a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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