LIVE BLOG: Van Dyke Murder Trial Begins, Judge Denies Motion to Change Venue

The judge denied a motion to move the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke out of Cook County

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

Follow along live from the courtroom above and below.

Opening statements had just begun when the widely circulated dashcam video showing the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald was played in court for jurors Monday, marking the start of the highly anticipated murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

"From the time [Van Dyke] gets out [of the squad car], six seconds later, he starts to shoot," special prosecutor Joseph McMahon told the 12 jurors and five alternates. "For the next 12 and a half seconds, he continues to pull his trigger over and over until his whole clip is emptied on Laquan McDonald." 

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. He was charged with six counts of first-degree murder in November 2015, and 16 counts of aggravated battery in March 2017.

Van Dyke entered a plea of not guilty.

Van Dyke's attorneys maintain the Chicago officer has been wrongly charged, saying he was acting within the law when he shot the teen, who at the time was an armed felon fleeing a crime scene. 

"What the evidence is going to show in this case is that Jason Van Dyke is not a murderer, he was a scared police officer who acted within his training," said attorney Dan Herbert. 

Herbert told the jury McDonald was high on PCP at the time of the shooting, and that his actions forced Van Dyke to respond. 

"This story shows an out-of-control individual who didn't care about anyone," Herbert said. "He was on a wild rampage through the city." 

In total, eight witnesses were called to testify on the first day of the trial, including two Chicago police officers at the scene that night. 

Just before opening statements began, the judge denied a motion to move the trial to a new location. Judge Vincent Gaughan said he has "faith in the citizens of Cook County." 

Van Dyke's defense team had previously filed motions aiming to move the trial outside of Cook County due to extensive news coverage of the shooting, a topic the larger-than-usual pool of 200 potential jurors were questioned on. 

3:30 p.m.: Day 1 of the Jason Van Dyke trial is complete. The governement called 8 witnesses to testify today, including 2 CPD officers who were on the scene that night. Testimony continues at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

3:25 p.m.: During cross examination, defense attorneys point out dash cam video that shows Officer Fontaine was still in her squad car when Laquan McDonald was shot. Attorneys ask “So you didn’t see any of that shooting?” Fontaine answered “I don’t remember."

3:20 p.m.: CPD Officer Dora Fontaine, who was on the scene that night, testifies when they pulled up Laquan McDonald was walking southbound “swaying a knife back and forth” She also testified she heard verbal commands for him to drop the knife.

2 p.m.: The 5th witness of the day is a retired CPD Officer who retrieved audio and video from CPD squad car cameras. He testified that not one of the five squad cars on the scene the night Laquan McDonald was shot, had audio of the shooting.

12:43 p.m.: Under cross examination, defense attorney Randy Rucker asks Officer McElligott “You can’t shoot at him while he’s running towards Burger King. There were vehicles there?”

Officer McElligott responds: “Wouldn’t be smart."

12:24 p.m.: Prosecutors: “Why didn’t you fire your weapon?”

Officer McElligott: “Trying to buy time to get a taser. He didn’t make a move towards me. I felt my partner was protected.”

12:09 p.m.: CPD Officer Joseph McElligott, the first to encounter Laquan McDonald, was asked if Laquan threatened him. “He held it (the knife) out, but he didn’t say anything verbally.” The prosecutor responded, “The question was, did he threaten you?” “No," he answered.

11:31 a.m.: New witness called. It’s the CPD dispatch officer who took the first 911 call regarding Laquan McDonald on October 20, 2014.

11:22 a.m.: First witness is called to testify in Jason Van Dyke murder trial. It’s Laquan McDonald’s great aunt, Carnissa Hunter.

11:21 a.m.: Defense: “Governmet called Laquan McDonald a black boy. Jason is obviously white. Government wants you to think it’s more inflammatory. A race issue... What this is, is an improper charge.” 

“It’s a tragedy, not a murder. That’s what the evidence will show."

11:08 a.m.: Defense: “They (state prosecutors) make a big deal about 16 shots, but an officer with average skills can fire 5-6 shots in 1 second “

11 a.m.: Dan Herbert says Laquan McDonald was an out-of-control teen who didn’t care about anybody. That the video doesn’t tell the whole story. “They (state prosecutors) want you to go in for the final two minutes of a two-hour movie."

10:50 a.m.: Defense Attorney Dan Herbert begins his opening statement by telling jury Jason Van Dyke’s day, on Oct 20, 2014, started like any other day... “But (Jason) didn’t know at the time, his life would change forever”

10:39 a.m.: Just 15 minutes into opening statements, state prosecutor, Joseph McMahon plays the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times, for the jury.

10:25 a.m.: Prosecutor Joseph McMahon tells jurors in opening statements that Jason Van Dyke was charged because “not a single shot was necessary or justified."

10:05 a.m.: Opening statements in Jason Van Dyke trial will begin after a short break.

9:57 a.m.: Another defense motion, to keep out testimony that no other officer fired their weapon at Laquan Mcdonald that night, was also denied

9:52 a.m.: Defense attorneys tried to have any testimony about Jason Van Dyke reloading his weapon during the 16 shots, kept from the jury. Judge Gaughan denied that motion too.

9:42 a.m.: /BREAKING/ Judge Gaughan denies the change of venue motion. “I have faith in the citizens of Cook County.”

9:39 a.m.: While arguing for a Change of Venue, defense attorney Dan Herbert says Van Dyke has no chance of presumption of innocence. ”He’s starting 20 yards behind the starting line... That’s not fair. Defies logic.”

9:31 a.m.: Another attempt to have the Jason Van Dyke jury dismissed by the defense was denied.

8:47 a.m.: The 12 member jury, eight females and four males, have arrived at the George Leighton Criminal Courthouse, for the start of the Jason Van Dyke murder trial. First order of business will be to swear in juror no. 12 and the fivealternates. Then a ruling on the Change of Motion motion.

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