Chicago police officer Jason Van Dijk listens during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. The lawyers for the white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the shooting of McDonald, a black teenager, opened their defense Monday with a witness and ask questions about the completeness and accuracy of the autopsy. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)
CHICAGO – Lawyers for a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black teenager has an animated video for jurors on Tuesday that was intended to show the officer’s perspective during the shooting and the support of his allegation that he feared for his safety.
The video, created for the defense of the team, was focused on the control of graphic police dashcam video appears to show Jason Van Dijk shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, if the teen is holding a knife and running away from officers in 2014. The police video was released a year after the shooting, sparking widespread protests in Chicago.
The dashcam video is the centerpiece of the state’s case against Van Dijk, but it was taken from a different angle — to the side of van Dijk and behind McDonald. What the officer saw during the incident can be crucial during the murder trial, as jurors try to determine whether it was reasonable for the officer to view McDonald as a threat.
It is unclear whether Van Dijk plans to testify during the process. His lawyers will see the animated video as a replacement for any direct testimony that would expose the 40-year-old officer to possible blistering cross-examination by prosecutors.
The animated video, which is also the antenna, and the other views, was produced by California-based 3-D Forensic. The company’s CEO, Jason Fries, described to the judges how it was made. At one point, the video shows a view as if a camera were hovering just over Van Dijk’s shoulder, pointed with his gun and shoot it as an animated image represents McDonald appears to look at the officer.
When a lawyer asked Fries if the animation of McDonald was the “closing of the distance to Dyke,” a prosecutor objected. The attorney rephrased the question, and Fries answered: “Yes, our analysis shows Mr McDonald was closer to the Officer Of the Dike.”
Earlier Tuesday, Van Dijk’s lawyers called the probation officer Dina Randazzo, who testified that McDonald had become “combative” during a juvenile hearing in August 2013. The testimony came a day after three county employees told jurors about the physical facts with McDonald.
McDonald had cut the tires of a police car, before Van Dijk arrived on the scene.
Defense attorneys have focused on the McDonald’s behavior in the past few years and the day he was killed. Under Illinois law, defendants who claim self-defense can present data about the past behavior of the person who killed them, even if they are not aware of the history, when the murder took place.
Prosecutors rested their case last week. Defense attorneys began presenting their case Monday.
On Monday, Miguel DeJsuus, who works at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, told jurors of an incident in which McDonald told him that he was on drugs before striking him. Joseph Plaud of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office testified about seeing McDonald “screaming, yelling, cursing” while he was in the juvenile court lock-up a little more than a year before the shooting.
But both witnesses, along with another man who worked in the lockup, acknowledged that she never spoke to Van Dijk about McDonald for the recording of pictures designed to tell the jury that Van Dijk didn’t know anything about the teenager’s past when he shot him.
Another question is whether and which other officers at the scene of the defense will call to testify. Prosecutors multiple previous week, but others, including two charged with trying to cover up what happened to protect Dike, not testified to.