CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge said he wants to hear from a former spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police before deciding if statements Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke made to union reps can be used as evidence at his murder trial in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Meantime, Van Dyke’s attorneys reiterated they plan to file a motion to request a change of venue in the case.
Van Dyke was back in court on Wednesday for a hearing on the admissibility of statements he made to two FOP representatives after shooting Laquan 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.
The defense has argued those statements are privileged, and should not be used against him in court. An FOP attorney cited two reasons a police officer’s statements to a union representative should be considered inadmissible at trial.
“The first one is if the information is going to cause imminent threat, great bodily harm to an individual, or death. The second is whether or not the union representative or the union is part of any litigation,” FOP attorney Pat Fioretto said.
One of the FOP representatives was subpoenaed to be in court on Wednesday, but was on vacation.
Prosecutors also questioned an FOP attorney about what the union’s former spokesman, Pat Camden, told reporters the night Laquan was shot.
Camden said McDonald was shot after he lunged at Van Dyke and his partner with a knife.
“The officers are responding to somebody with a knife in a crazed condition, who stabs out tires on a vehicle and tires on a squad car. You obviously aren’t going to sit down and have a cup of coffee with them. He is a very serious threat to the officers, and he leaves them no choice at that point but to defend themselves,” Camden said. “When police tell you to drop a weapon, all you have to do is drop it.”
However, video of the shooting shows Laquan walking away from Van Dyke, who shot the teen just seconds after exiting his vehicle. The dashboard camera video does not show Laquan lunging toward Van Dyke.
Gaughan said he would like to know where Camden got the information he provided to the media – whether it came from the same FOP representatives Van Dyke spoke to, or someone else at the scene.
Activist William Calloway, who fought the city to get the dashcam video released, said both Van Dyke’s statements to the union and Camden’s statements to the media should be presented at trial.
“I think everything should be used in this prosecution, and I think that that statement that Pat Camden gave, and that what Jason Van Dyke gave to his union rep, all of it should be used; all of it is credible evidence that should be used in the prosecution, without a doubt,” he said.
Camden might be required to testify at the next hearing on the case on Aug. 11.
At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, defense attorney Daniel Herbert told Gaughan he still plans to ask for a change of venue, although he has yet to file a formal motion.
“We’re certainly going to raise a change of venue motion, and we may raise another motion as well regarding a vindictive and selective prosecution,” Herbert said.
Herbert has said it’s impossible for Van Dyke to get a fair trial in Cook County, and contended the jury pool in Cook County has been tainted, in large part because of repeated comments Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made disparaging Van Dyke. Herbert has said it would be “extremely difficult” to find any jurors in Chicago who don’t already think Van Dyke is guilty given Emanuel’s public comments on the case.