Jason Van Dyke Trial Live Blog: Ex-CPD Weapons Instructor Testifies on Training

Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014

What to Know

  • Van Dyke is charged with murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old McDonald nearly four years ago
  • The Chicago police officer was captured on dashcam video shooting McDonald 16 times the night of Oct. 20, 2014, on the city's Southwest Side
  • Van Dyke entered a plea of not guilty

For many, watching Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke empty his weapon, firing 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014 raised more than just questions. 

But in the fourth day of defense testimony in Van Dyke's murder trial, a retired CPD weapons instructor testified that officers are trained to do that if reasonable and necessary. 

"You shoot until the threat is eliminated," said retired officer Nicholas Pappas. "There is no telling what that could be. It's no telling how many rounds it could take to do that." 

After the shooting, Van Dyke reloaded his weapon, a move the instructor also said was part of the training. 

"To stand there with an empty weapon is a big problem," Pappas said. 

But prosecutors pressed Pappas on whether such a shooting should be considered "reasonable or necessary."

"This is the deadliest weapon in his arsenal?" Prosecutor Daniel Weiler asked.

"Yes," Pappas said. 

"And the defendant is taught there could be criminal and civil consequences for the use of that weapon?" Weiler said. 

"Yes," Pappas said. 

"And he is taught to utilize that weapon with restraint?" Weiler said. 

"Yes," Pappas said. 

Defense attorneys have so far presented nearly two dozen witnesses, but have given no indication if Van Dyke himself will take the stand.

Attorneys said the previous day that Van Dyke never should have been charged with murder because of an Illinois law that protects peace officers trying to arrest fleeing felons. 

McDonald’s great uncle said he watched Wednesday as witnesses testified to alleged violent incidents involving McDonald as a juvenile.

"It is an unjust ploy to paint Laquan McDonald as the perpetrator," Rev. Marvin Hunter said. "He is a victim. He is the victim in this case. He is not on trial."

Dr. Jeremy Stayton, who treated McDonald the night he was shot, said the teen had no blood pressure, no respiration and no pulse. A wound to his pulmonary artery, Stayton said, caused McDonald to lose more than half the blood in his body. 

"The chances of him surviving are very low in any case," Stayton said, then answering what the chances would have been, "I don’t know if anyone has ever done a paper on it, but I would say less than 1 percent." 

On Tuesday, jurors were shown a recreation of the fatal shooting from the officer's perspective that was based on laser analysis of the scene and looked like it was taken straight from a video game. 

According to defense attorneys, the video showed that McDonald was closing the distance between himself and Van Dyke before the officer opened fire. Prosecutors have argued dashcam video shows McDonald appearing to walk away as Van Dyke shot the teen 16 times on Oct. 20. 2014. 

Van Dyke was charged with six counts of first-degree murder more than a year after he shot McDonald on the city's Southwest Side. He entered a plea of not guilty. 

Special prosecutors rested their case against Van Dyke Thursday after calling 24 witnesses over three and a half days. 

So far in the trial, the jury saw dashcam video of the shooting, graphic autopsy images of the more than a dozen gunshot wounds on the body of McDonald, video recreating the shooting from Van Dyke's point of view and video showing 16 gunshots in under 14 seconds. 

They have also heard testimony from several Chicago police officers and witnesses at the scene, seen the weapon Van Dyke used, and watched as FBI specialists demonstrated the shooting. 

12:58 p.m.: Day 4 of defense testimony is complete. Only 3 witneses were called today. No testimony on Friday. Testimony resumes on Monday.

12:56 p.m.: Under cross examination, Pappas is questioned about his general orders (policy) and how he wrote that deadly force should be used only after all other means of disposal have been exhausted and should be a last resort measure.

12:40 p.m.: Pappas: "...(they) shoot until threat eliminated. No telling how how many rounds can take to do that"

12:39 p.m.: Nicholas Pappas- a retired firearms instructor for CPD testifies how police recruits are trained to immediately reload their weapons. “To stand there with an empty weapon is a big problem”

11:40 a.m.: During cross examination of Dr. O’Donnell, prosecutor Joseph Cullen asks “Did ( Laquan) demonstrate any super human strength that night?" Answer, “No.”

11:34 a.m.: First witness today, a neighbor, told the FBI that at 2 a.m. on Oct. 20, she called 911 bcause when she pulled up to her West Side home, a man with dreads and a black hoodie (Laquan) was sitting outside her home she was afraid to get out of her car. But in court, said had no fear at all.

11:28 a.m.: Dr. O’Donnell: ”(Laquan was) Whacked on PCP at the time of his death."

11:19 a.m.: Dr. O’Donnell says PCP can cause users to feel super human strength, feeling they can do anything and causes bizzare behavior. Testifies at 56 nano grams, reactions include euphoria, hallucinations, aggression, and violence.

11:16 a.m.: Dr James Thomas O’Donnell, a Pharmacologist, testifies that the amount of PCP in Laquan McDoanld’s body, 56 nano grams, shows the PCP “was used within a relative recent period. Certainly day of”

10:36 a.m.: First witness today, a Chicago woman, testified that at 2am on October 20th, she called 911 because when she pulled up to her west side home, a man w/ dreads and a black hoodie (Laquan) was sitting outside her home she was afraid to get out of her car & walk into her home.

10:23 a.m.: Before day four of defense testimony, court begins with a motion request to allow defense attorneys to play police academy training videos. Judge Gaughan denies the request, but the defense can call the trainers to the stand to testify.

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