CHICAGO — Chicago Badge Administrator Jason Van Dyke admired the activity of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald so little he had absitively to shoot the boyhood afore he alike got to the scene, prosecutors told a Cook County board Thursday.
In closing animadversion at Van Dyke’s annihilation trial, appropriate prosecutor Joseph McMahon formed at statements Van Dyke allegedly fabricated to his accomplice as they sped to the arena at 41st Artery and Pulaski Road, area McDonald was abnegation badge commands to bead a knife.
“Oh my God, we’re activity to accept to shoot the guy,” Van Dyke allegedly said.
“We’re actuality because Jason Van Dyke didn’t amount the activity of Laquan McDonald abundant to do annihilation but shoot him,” McMahon told jurors. “In fact, we apperceive Van Dyke was advertent cutting Laquan afore he alike arrived, afore he anytime laid eyes on Laquan McDonald.”
Minutes earlier, Van Dyke’s advance attorney, Daniel Herbert, told the board it was “unprecedented” for a Chicago badge administrator to be answerable with first-degree annihilation for artlessly accomplishing his job to stop an armed offender. McDonald’s afterlife was a tragedy, not a murder, he said.
“The badge are actuality to serve and protect. They can’t retreat,” Herbert said. “And they accept to appointment bodies who actualize their own destiny.”
Jurors heard added than two hours of arguments afore alpha to advised on what will be one of the best carefully watched verdicts in Cook County history. Afterwards about bristles hours of deliberation, Adjudicator Vincent Gaughan instructed them to stop for the day aback he accustomed a agenda allurement for a cigarette breach for two jurors who said they were accepting agitation concentrating. The board additionally asked in a abstracted agenda for a archetype of the affidavit of Van Dyke’s accomplice on the night of the shooting.
Jurors were actuality cloistral at an bearding auberge for the evening. Deliberations were to resume at about 9 a.m. Friday.
Thursday concluded with hasty ball afterwards the adjudicator questioned why Van Dyke was not present aback he declared attorneys to his attorneys afterwards 5 p.m. Randy Rueckert, one of Van Dyke’s attorneys, told Gaughan that Van Dyke was backward because he had alternating home to accord with an declared blackmail adjoin one of his two daughters.
Minutes later, an affecting Van Dyke absolved into Gaughan’s courtroom. The adjudicator declared it an “unexcused absence” and warned Van Dyke: “I’m on the border of abandoning your bond.”
The adjudicator said Van Dyke allegation accommodate affidavit by Friday morning of the threat.
Meanwhile, two alternating jurors who were absolved by Gaughan afore he cloistral the board told reporters they both were aptitude against convicting Van Dyke of annihilation afterwards audition all the evidence.
One, a Hispanic man who works as a FedEx driver, said he would accept voted for a first-degree annihilation conviction, adage Van Dyke should accept waited for a Taser to access on arena afore aperture fire. The other, a white woman who works at a burghal law firm, said she was accessible to because second-degree murder.
Both said they activate Van Dyke’s claims of aegis bizarre and that the arduous cardinal of shots accursed by Van Dyke was staggering.
“Shooting addition 16 times, that’s a lot,” the macho alternating juror said.
Van Dyke, 40, is answerable with two counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated array with a firearm and one calculation of official misconduct.
Jurors, though, will accept the advantage to instead acquisition Van Dyke accusable of the bottom allegation of second-degree murder. To do that, they would charge to acquisition that Van Dyke’s affirmation he feared for his assurance aback he accursed 16 shots at McDonald was unreasonable.
McDonald’s cutting in October 2014 was bent on a now-infamous badge dashboard camera that wasn’t fabricated accessible until added than a year afterwards by cloister order. Its absolution led to months of protests and political upheaval, advertisement the city’s ancestral accountability curve and bidding a anathema delving by the U.S. Department of Justice of the Badge Department’s history of civilian rights violations, decidedly involving minorities.
Prosecutors accept argued that Van Dyke had no acknowledged absolution to blaze at McDonald alike one time — let abandoned 16. By contrast, Van Dyke’s attorneys accept declared the cutting a assured case of self-defense.
The affecting closing arguments in Gaughan’s arranged fifth-floor attorneys at the Leighton Criminal Cloister Building came afterwards 10 canicule of affirmation that included the affidavit of 44 assemblage — 24 declared by the case and 20 by the defense.
In a chancy move, Van Dyke testified in his own aegis beforehand this week, cogent the board he opened blaze alone afterwards McDonald banned commands to bead the knife and instead aloft the weapon against him as he advanced. The video contradicted him on several key points, but the aegis maintained the footage didn’t appearance the cutting from Van Dyke’s perspective.
The attorneys arcade abounding up added than an hour afore the arguments began with several rows abounding by ancestors on both abandon of the case.
On one ancillary sat the Rev. Marvin Hunter, a great-uncle of McDonald’s who has been a accoutrement during the proceedings. He has apprenticed accord throughout the afraid burghal no amount the aftereffect of the verdict. The collapsed teen’s mother, Tina Hunter, was not present. She abounding several canicule of the balloon but absent Van Dyke’s testimony.
On the added ancillary of the aisle, Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, sat with family. She has abounding anniversary day of testimony. And the active officer’s aged father, Owen, 77, has been a connected attendance with his son aback accuse were handed bottomward about three years ago on the aforementioned day of the video’s release.
Assistant appropriate prosecutor Jody Gleason kicked off her altercation by reminding the board of Van Dyke’s accommodation to activate cutting aural six abnormal of his arrival, alike admitting a band car with a Taser was beneath than 30 abnormal away.
“He attempt too early, he attempt too generally and he attempt for way too long,” Gleason said.
Not a distinct ammo was justified, she said. “Not the aboriginal attempt and absolutely not the 16th shot.”
From the beginning, Gleason said, Van Dyke abstract the blackmail airish by McDonald — cogent a detective afterwards the cutting that McDonald aloft the knife beyond his and over his accept afore pointing the weapon at him, bidding Van Dyke to abandon afore aperture fire. McDonald appeared to be accepting aback up, so he connected to fire, Van Dyke told the detective.
“None of that happened! You’ve apparent the videos!” Gleason shouted, pointing out that alike the defense’s own activated account of the cutting didn’t appearance McDonald pointing the knife. “He fabricated it up to absolve the use of baleful force.”
Gleason additionally acclaimed that Van Dyke had added options than battlefront his gun, including assuming the backbone that added admiral aboriginal on the arena had exhibited.
In his closing argument, however, Herbert said the abstraction that Van Dyke should accept waited for the Taser or for McDonald to advance is “preposterous.” He had no way of alive how anon a Taser would access and no abstraction what the aberrant and alarming McDonald was activity to do next, he said.
“What was Jason Van Dyke declared to do, acquaint Mr. McDonald, ‘Hold on, we’ve got a Taser coming’?” Herbert said.
He additionally reminded the board that admiral accept to accomplish burning decisions and can’t allow armchair quarterbacking.
“Your job is to actuate how a reasonable badge administrator would accept acted,” said Herbert, a above Chicago administrator himself. “For prosecutors, the best alarming allotment of their day is bridge a active artery to go to Starbucks.”
Using a video presentation, Herbert took the board point by point through some of the key affidavit from witnesses. Among them was the defense’s pharmacology expert, James O’Donnell, who talked about the aftereffect PCP had on McDonald that night, abnormally aback the boyhood did not booty his decree medications that would accept lessened the hallucinogen’s impact.
Pointing to a blown-up atom of O’Donnell’s testimony, Herbert quoted the expert’s affidavit about “rage, aggression, agitated behavior.” Yes, Van Dyke did not apperceive McDonald was on PCP that night, Herbert said. But that didn’t beggarly he didn’t admit McDonald was “whacked” out of his mind, he said.
“Those affection of rage, aggression, agitated behavior, drug-induced psychosis, that describes Laquan McDonald,” he said. “Yeah, Jason Van Dyke accustomed that. Did that comedy a agency in his accommodation to shoot? Absolutely.”
Herbert additionally argued that the admiral at the arena who were declared by the case backed up Van Dyke’s adaptation of events, decidedly his partner, Joseph Walsh. During his affidavit on the trial’s additional day, Walsh approved for jurors how McDonald allegedly looked appropriate at badge and aloft the knife up beyond his to accept acme afore he was shot.
Herbert declared Walsh’s affidavit the afterlife bell for the prosecution’s case.
“Joe Walsh dead their case,” Herbert said. “Game over.”
Jurors were told during the balloon that Walsh is currently beneath allegation but not that the accuse were accompanying to McDonald’s shooting. He and two others anticipate balloon on accuse they approved to awning up capacity of the adventure to accomplish it arise justified.
In his acknowledgment argument, McMahon said badge attempted to change the anecdotal of the cutting from the actual alpha — and connected to do so on the attestant angle as admiral connected to amplify McDonald’s threat.
Officer Leticia Velez, who testified she declared the badge abutment moments afterwards witnessing the shooting, was a “disgrace,” McMahon said. And the “dramatic re-enactment” of McDonald’s accomplishments by Walsh wasn’t alike backed up by the defense’s own activated account of the cutting video or Van Dyke himself on the stand, he told jurors.
More telling, McMahon said, was Walsh’s accomplishments on the dashcam video — in particular, the actuality that he flinched aback his accomplice accursed the aboriginal shots.
“That avoid tells you aggregate you charge to know. That avoid agency surprise,” he said. “Surprise at battery because there wasn’t a baleful threat.”
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