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Rev. Jesse Jackson joins others in seeking special prosecutor for Jason Van Dyke case

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 06: Reverend Jesse Jackson leads demonstrators down State Street to protest the death of Laquan McDonald and the alleged cover-up that followed on December 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed 17-year-old McDonald on October 20, 2014, hitting him with 16 bullets. Van Dyke was charged with murder more than a year after the shooting after a judge ordered the release to the public of a video which showed McDonald backing away from Van Dyke while being shot. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has filed a petition seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the prosecution of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, court records show.

Meanwhile, civil rights attorneys who filed a similar petition on Feb. 16 appeared before Chief Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. Friday.

Jackson filed his own petition on Feb. 18 — two days after coalition of ministers, elected officials and civil rights attorneys held a news conference to announce their court filing.

But Jackson’s petition wasn’t made public until this week, according to court records.

Martin on Friday said it still needs to be determined whether he or Judge Vincent Gaughan will handle the matter, said Locke Bowman, executive director of Northwestern Law School’s Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice.

Gaughan is assigned to the murder case of Van Dyke, who shot teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

Martin on Friday also said hearings on both petitions may eventually be consolidated, Bowman said.

Bowman’s petition argues Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez cannot prosecute the Van Dyke case because of her alliance with the Fraternal Order of Police and her history of seeking a political endorsement from the union.

Jackson’s 27-page petition also says that Alvarez “has a conflict of interest” and a history of failing to prosecute police.

“Her public comments regarding this proceeding have created an appearance of impropriety that severely undermine the public’s confidence that the prosecution will be just, fair and impartial,” Jackson’s petition reads.

Jackson’s petition lists a number of officers who have shot and killed civilians, including Dante Servin.

“Unfortunately, the decision to prosecute a Chicago Police officer for his or her criminal conduct committed while on duty is largely an aberration . . . The world is watching. It is waiting to see how Cook County administers justice.”

Earlier this month Alvarez put out a statement that read, in part, “It is clear that there is no legal conflict in this case, and prosecution will proceed to hold Jason Van Dyke accountable for the murder of Laquan McDonald.”

A spokeswoman for Alvarez, said Friday the state’s attorney’s office has no comment on Jackson’s petition.