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. The selection of the Jury is expected to resume for the trial of van Dijk after the effort was called off Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, as a result of a scheduling conflict for the trial chairman Vincent Gaughan. Van Dijk has pleaded not guilty. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
CHICAGO – Lawyers sparred over race Wednesday at the selection of the jury in the trial of a white Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager.
An African-American woman who works as a FedEx driver has been selected in the first hour of the second day of jury selection, but only after the plaintiffs in a movement accused Officer Jason Van Dijk of the lawyers of illegally trying to keep minorities from sitting on the jury.
The problem came when defense attorneys asked for her from the jury indicates to the woman that the answers to a questionnaire in which she said the photograph of Laquan McDonald 16 times it was “horrific” and her hesitation when asked during jury selection if they would be comfortable in acquitting Van Dijk.
But prosecutor Marilyn Hite-Ross argued that Van Dijk’s lawyers had illegally used one of their challenges to remove women from the jury for no other reason than her race. Judge Vincent Gaughan denied the motion, says that Van Dijk for the lawyers, in which two Afro-Americans from the jury pool during the jury selection on Monday, had given “race-neutral explanation.” Gaughan refused to remove the woman for the cause and the woman was then selected for the jury.
The woman was one of five people who were selected for the jury on Wednesday, bringing the number of judges who are selected for the jury in less than two days of questioning by lawyers to 10. Twelve jurors and four alternate jurors will be selected.
The woman told the court that they put aside what they know about the intake and be honest. But they also made a point that is definitely going to prominently figure in the trial are The 16 shots Van Dijk fired. “I can’t lie… That’s a lot of shots,” she said.
Wednesday question also resulted in two Spanish women were selected for the jury, a mother of a 6-year-old girl who is also a grandmother. After she said that the protesters outside the court was afraid of her, Of Dijk ‘ s lawyers asked that they not be selected for the jury, but Gaughan rejected the request.
An aspiring Chicago police officer, a Spanish woman in her 20s, was selected. She said that she has not seen a video of a McDonald’s shoot, nor formed an opinion about the case.
Mid-afternoon, the jury includes the African-American woman, three Hispanics, five caucasians and one Asian American.
Or the 10 people will actually sit in the jury box, is unclear. Van Dijk’s lawyers have yet to announce if they want a lawsuit or the judge to decide in what is called a bench trial. Also the defense lawyers have filed a motion asking that the trial be moved outside of Chicago because, they say, the extensive local media coverage has made it impossible for Van Dijk to a fair trial in the city. Gaughan said that he wanted the selection of the jury to proceed to make a decision on that motion.