Chicago

Judge Rules Van Dyke’s Statements Can Be Used in Trial

A judge ruled Friday that statements made to union representatives by the Chicago police officer charged with murder in the death of Laquan McDonald can be used by prosecutors in court.

The judge granted the motion to allow what Jason Van Dyke said to Fraternal Order of Police representatives the night of the fatal shooting in October 2014, denying what a lawyer for the FOP testified is an expected "privilege" in the union's contract. 

Van Dyke’s lawyers were seeking to block prosecutors from using those statements, arguing that he was essentially forced to answer questions that might incriminate him or risk losing his badge.

The judge in the case heard arguments in July and decided he wanted to hear from other officers before making a decision, delaying his ruling on whether those statements can be used during the trial until Friday.

At a pre-trial hearing in June, Judge Vincent Gaughan issued a split decision, ruling statements and reports from Van Dyke’s interviews with a detective were fair game for prosecutors but facts generated from him during conversations with a street deputy the night of the shooting were off limits.

Three officers were also charged with obstruction of justice and official misconduct in June for allegedly trying to cover up Van Dyke’s actions on the night of the shooting.

Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder in the case, is currently free on bond and has pleaded not guilty. His attorney has also made it clear that he hopes to get a change of venue to move the high-profile case outside of Cook County.

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