FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dijk, charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald 2014, listens during a hearing at the Leighton criminal court Building in Chicago. Defense attorneys are expected to announce if they want a jury or judge to hear the murder trial of van Dijk. Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan told Van Dijk lawyers to return to the court on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, to say if they want him or a jury to decide the case. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
CHICAGO – Lawyers for a white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald announced Friday that they will stick with jurors selected, the last couple of days for the process instead of a judge decide the case.
Judge Vincent Gaughan had a Friday deadline for Jason Van Dijk to say whether he wanted to switch to a bench trial in which the judge would have to decide the officer’s fate. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday, but the judge still must decide on a defense request to move the trial out of Cook County, where Chicago is located.
The court screened and selected 12 jurors and five alternates during the past week.
Video shows Van Dijk shoot McDonald 16 times as the teenager seems to run away from the police with a knife in his hand. It will be one of the key points in the process.
The selection of the Jury is packed, much faster than expected, with a question of the prospects of it taking just three days. The 12-person jury is composed of seven whites, three Hispanics, one African American and one Asian-American. Lawyers also picked five alternates.
Most of the prospective jurors said they had seen the police video of the shooting. Some of the jurors who were excused said they could not be impartial after what they had seen on the video.
The release of the video in November 2015, has led to large protests, the expulsion of the police inspector and the requirements for the reform of the police.
Even those who were picked for the panel expressed concern, with the last male member of the jury to say that he thought that the officer had “gone too far” when he shot the 17-year-old.