Cop accused of the killing of Laquan McDonald: I’m not racist
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dijk speaks out before going on trial on charges of first-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Nearly 200 protesters chanted outside a Chicago courthouse Wednesday as jury selection began in the first-degree murder trial of a white policeman accused of killing a black teenager.
Prospective jurors were given questionnaires to fill in. Although the documents were sealed, they were probably asked how closely they followed media coverage of the 2014 shooting, and whether they had seen the dashcam video shows Officer Jason Van Dijk firing 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was with a knife, but apparently run of officers.
Van Dijk showed to the court about an hour before the scheduled start of the protest. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and surrounded by supporters, including the Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham.
A mix-up about the seats held by the members of the McDonald’s family from the courtroom, which was packed with potential jurors and journalists. While McDonald’s mother, Tina Hunter, was within a number of others were excluded.
Outside, about a half-dozen agents were stationed on the roof of the parking ramp on the other side of the street from the courthouse. Helicopters circled overhead while protesters beat drums and gave speeches.
Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression told the Chicago Sun-Times, that the crowd was there to demand justice for the teen killed.
“The only way he is going to get justice is if Jason Dyke is convicted for the first degree murder that he committed,” said Chapman.
The case against Van Dijk has polarized much of Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced this week he would not seek a third term, came under heavy control are trying to block the release of the dashcam footage. He and his team of city lawyers released only after a judge in 2015 ordered them to do.
Van Dijk is a lawyer, Daniel Herbert, has claimed that there is no way his client could get a fair trial, and he pointed the finger at Emanuel. “When the mayor of the city, the pool of judges that we would be signs of has taken such an adamant attitude, makes it very difficult for us to judge in here that is not susceptible to a finding of guilty.”
Herbert added, “We think that at the end of the day we go to meet with a number of very convincing evidence to show that it is impossible for my client to a fair trial in this case.”
The grainy video of McDonald walking down a Chicago street with a knife in his hand. As he walked in the street with his back away from the officers, Of Dike, jumped out of his car, drew his 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun and began to shoot.
It took him 15 seconds to fire 16 shots, some of whom hit McDonald after he was already on the ground.
In the days that followed, many activists and leaders of the community accused the mayor and the police department of trying to cover up the incident. The ill will and mistrust between the community and the police only grew after the dashcam video was released.
The police union claimed McDonald was with a knife and approaching the officers when he was shot. However, the graphic video of McDonald veering away from officers.
The failed treatment of the shooting also led to a devastating 2017 Ministry of Justice, the report claimed that the Chicago police routinely used excessive force, violated civil rights and demonstrated racial bias against blacks.
The investigation of the Chicago PD was one of the largest in the country. The report also slammed the city, and the authorities, insufficient training and a failure to power-hungry officials accountable.
Former Superintendent of Chicago Police Garry McCarthy told Fox News at the time that the Justice Department never interviewed him for his report. He suggested that it was because “my story does not fit with what they want to say. … The political is the strongest draw.”
Eventually, Emanuel dismissed McCarthy.
2017: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FINDS EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE BY THE CHICAGO POLICE
Also in 2017, three police officers were indicted on charges of conspiring to cover up the fatal shooting.
The indictment alleged the veteran police tried to “hide the true facts of the events surrounding the murder of Laquan McDonald.”
Special prosecutor Patricia Holmes said in a statement that “the indictment makes clear that these suspects more than just obeying an unofficial ‘code of silence.'” She claimed that the officers lied about what happened to prevent independent criminal investigators from uncovering the truth.
The officers have pleaded not guilty. A bench trial is scheduled for later this year.
Fox News’ Mike Arroyo contributed to this report.