Chicago police officer Jason Van Dijk listens during his first degree murder trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton criminal court Building on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The lawyers for the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot the 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. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)
CHICAGO – Chicago police officer told jurors Wednesday at the trial of a white police officer charged with murder in the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, the black teenager looked imminent as they met him and that she initially thought that he may have a gun.
Leticia Velez was the first witness called to the stand by an attorney for the suspect in Chicago officer, Jason Van Dijk, in a third day of presentation of the evidence. Van Dyke on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, finished the shooting of McDonald 16 times as he ran away with a knife. McDonald doesn’t have a gun.
Velez was one of the first officers to respond to reports that McDonald was to break into trucks. She testified that McDonald was holding his side when she saw him and that that might mean, he had a gun. They also said that McDonald ‘strange acted, inter alia, by not looking at the officers as they followed him with blaring sirens on the patrol cars.
“He looked crazed,” she testified.
Velez’s testimony is part of the defense team’s effort to try and determine that Van Dijk had a reasonable fear that McDonald is a threat and that it was reasonable that he opened fire. The prosecutors have emphasized that there are no other officers shot at McDonald.
Only after McDonald was on the street, mortally wounded, and Velez asked another officer about a weapon she did know a gun was not involved, Velez testified.
“We discovered later that he not had a gun,” she said. “But I believed he had a gun.”
The focus Tuesday was an animated video produced for the defense purporting to show Van Dijk’s perspective as he shot McDonald 16 times. The animation sought to establish that the officer had a legitimate fear for his life. Patrol car video of the 2014 shoot is from a different angle, behind the McDonald. It is the center of the state.
Van Dijk could testify. But his lawyers see the animation as a substitute for his testimony. If the 40-year-old officer testifies, that he would be exposed to possible blistering cross-examination.
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