Jason Van Dyke Begins Trial For Killing Laquan McDonald
The court surveyed about 100 potential jurors.
Jury selection has begun for the trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago Police officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.
Van Dyke wore a bullet proof vest as he was escorted to the courtroom to face 23 charges related to the McDonald case. He was charged with six counts of first-degree murder, 16 aggravated battery charges and one official misconduct count, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. Van Dyke plead not guilty.
The courts screened about 200 potential jurors who were given a questionnaire to test their ability to be impartial during the trial. Each potential juror was told they would have to return to the courtroom for additional questioning and they were not allowed to discuss the case, reports USA Today.
Van Dyke’s legal team filed a motion to have the trial moved out of Illinois' Cook County, where the shooting took place, but Judge Vince Gaughan said he would not consider the move until juror screenings were over. Van Dyke could also request a bench trial that would leave Gaughan the sole decider of his fate.
The prosecution asked the judge that Van Dyke be jailed or have his bond raised because he violated an order banning him from speaking to the media about his case. The defense argued Van Dyke was exercising his First Amendment rights. Last week, Van Dyke gave two interviews with the media during which he claimed he was not racist and accused critics of using his case for political gain.
“Everyone wants to be part of the bandwagon of hatred. Anyone who knows me, knows me personally, knows … that I’m not a racist,” he told The Chicago Tribune. “That’s a great false narrative. … It’s just slander.”
About 100 people protested outside of the courtroom during the proceedings. Despite the tension, McDonald’s family wants to keep the peace.
“We’re asking for complete peace,” said Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle. “We don’t want any violence before, during or after the verdict in this trial.”
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