Van Dyke Trial Live Blog: Officer’s Attorneys Say He Shouldn’t Have Been Charged With Murder

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

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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

Defense attorneys for Jason Van Dyke on Wednesday said the Chicago officer never should have been charged with murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald because of an Illinois law that protects peace officers trying to arrest fleeing felons.

The lawyer who trains the city's police officers testified to explain what the department considers to be justifiable. 

"So this second justification would be reasonable and necessary to prevent the defeat of the arrest and the person," police department attorney Yolanda Sayre said, "and the person to be arrested has attempted to commit or has committed a forcible felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of great bodily harm or death."

That's what happened, the defense said, prior to the October 2014 shooting when police were called when McDonald allegedly confronted truck driver Rudy Barillas with a knife. 

"He pulled out a knife and tried to hurt me," Barillas said. "What did he do with the knife? He came towards me and tried to stab me." 

Barillas said McDonald appeared to be disoriented and unable to speak.

The prosecution said McDonald posed no real threat.

"So you were able to fend off this man with nothing more than a cell phone and some rocks? Is that right?" Joseph Cullen asked Barillas, who confirmed he was able to.

McDonald’s great uncle said he watched Wednesday as more 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." 

In a scene that looked like it was taken from a video game, jurors in Van Dyke's trial on Tuesday were shown a recreation of the fatal shooting, but this time from the officer's perspective. 

The recreation was based on laser analysis of the scene and was played over police radio audio from the shooting itself. 

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. 

Tuesday would have been McDonald's 21st birthday. 

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. 

What remains unclear is whether or not Van Dyke himself will testify.

1:27 p.m.: Doctor who treated Laquan McDonald at Mount Sinai Hospital says he suffered from a bullet wound to his pulmonary artery. If he suffered such a wound, the doctor says, the chances are 99 percent he would be dead today.

12 p.m.: Jackie Alexander, who was working at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, testified that in April of 2014, Laquan McDonald made threats to other inmates that he would beat them up. He also allegedly threatened to put a bullet in the judge's head.

11:45 a.m.: Police officer testifies that in the wake of the MacDonald shooting, there was an officer safety alert for a gun that resembled a knife. 

11:25 a.m.: Truck driver Rudy Barillas testifies that McDonald tried to stab him twice after he found the teen trying to steal radios from trucks parked at his lot at 41st and Pulaski.

10:50 a.m.: Velez testifies that her first instinct was to call her police union, not an ambulance, after the McDonald shooting.

10:21 a.m.: Testimony in the trial of Jason Van Dyke has resumed. The first witness is Leteshia Velez, an officer in a squad car approached by Laquan McDonald. She remembers the “expression on his face...the look in his eye.”

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