Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dijk listens during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 in Chicago. (Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)
CHICAGO – The last moments of Laquan McDonald’s life played over and over again for the jury. An officer pulls, comes from a patrol car and opened fire on the black teenager runs away from the police, a small knife in the hand. McDonald do you do on the ground. More bullets are fired into his body — a total of 16.
The video of the Oct. 20, 2014, you can shoot so the centre of the murder trial of a white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dijk that members of the jury saw it at least five times during the first day of testimony Monday — the first time, just 15 minutes away in the opening accounts. The release of more than a year after the shooting led to large protests, the expulsion of the city’s police superintendent, and the requirements for the reform of the police.
Most of the jurors had said during jury selection that she had already seen the images, which seems to contradict the original claims of the Dike and the other officers that McDonald had turned at them with a knife. Now the jury saw it repeatedly, with officers of justice at a given moment, stop it to highlight certain points: the time for Van Dijk opens fire; the first bullet striking McDonald, the 17-year-old lying on the ground.
In some of the most compelling testimony of the day, Officer Dora Fontaine said, puffs of smoke seen in video of teen sensitive body were, in fact, the smoke that they saw as bullets struck him. Prosecutors are to continue presenting evidence on Tuesday.
While the officers of justice stresses that no other officers that have been in contact with McDonald opened fire, attorney Daniel Herbert argued that Van Dijk “is not a murderer. … He is afraid of the police-officer, who was fearful for his life and the lives of others and acted as he was trained to do.”
In his opening statement, special prosecutor Joseph McMahon told each of the 16 shots Van Dijk fired, rapping his knuckles on a lectern, each time he said a number of: “He shot him … not one, not two, but three, four, five, six, seven, eight — he is only halfway done — nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 times in total.”
“Not a single shot was necessary or justifiable,” he said at another point in his opening speech.
But Herbert told the jury that the number of shots was irrelevant: “They would not charge him with the shooting too often. They charged him with first-degree murder.”
Herbert painted a picture of McDonald as a crazed teenager who had attacked a truck driver and a squad car and had tried to get into two restaurants. He said McDonald had flicked his folding knife open when Van Dyke pulled up.
McDonald was “planning to attack” once again, Herbert said. “He is not trying to escape.”
He and McMahon both noted McDonald had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system.
But McMahon said Van Dijk did not know that — or anything else about McDonald — when he opened fire just six seconds after getting his patrol car.
“What he saw was a black boy walks in a street with a chain link fence with the audacity to ignore the police,” McMahon said.
Fontaine, who seemed to be climbing out of her squad car when Van Dijk opened fire, testified that she never saw McDonald attack officers, officers in charge or even raise his arm.
Prosecutors granted her immunity for her testimony. She is the only officer to challenge statements attributed to her in the police reports about the shooting. Some other officers on the scene are charged with lying on their reports in what prosecutors say was an effort to cover up what happened on the protecting Dike.
Another officer who testified Monday, Joseph McElligott, said that he had come within 15 feet (4.5 meters) from McDonald’, same distance From Dike was when he later shot the teenager. He said McDonald has put into the band of the patrol car his partner was driving and hit the window with the knife. But he said that he doesn’t think that his partner was in danger. He said that they were waiting for an officer to arrive with a Taser to use on McDonald.
“We were just trying to be patient,” he said.
McElligott was of the street, blocking traffic, when Van Dijk arrived, and under cross-examination, McElligott said McDonald’s later actions had increased the threat level.
Van Dijk has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.
Earlier Monday, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan decided against moving the trial of Chicago. Defense attorneys had argued that extensive publicity because the 2015 version of the video of the recording, makes it impossible for Van Dijk to a fair trial in the city.