CHICAGO (CBS) — The highly charged murder trial against Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, charged in the shooting death of Laquan Mcdonald, is less than a week away.
Van Dyke wants the trial moved because of all the publicity; meantime, his face is plastered all over the Chicago Tribune as part of his interview with the newspaper.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it is clearly an effort by Jason Van Dyke’s attorneys to show him in a sympathetic light and to set the stage before his murder trial. But did it violate the judge’s gag order?
Pastor Marvin Hunter, the great uncle of Laquan McDonald, called Van Dyke’s interview with the Chicago Tribune “shaping the narrative.”
“I look at it clearly as a tactic that his attorneys are using to save or preserve his life,” stated Pastor Marvin Hunter.
In the interview, Van Dyke, who has been charged with murder, says he prays for McDonald’s family. He did not discuss details of the shooting itself, but told the Chicago Tribune: “I offer up a rosary every day. I never would have fired my gun if I didn’t think my life was in jeopardy or another citizen’s life was.”
CBS 2’s Political Analyst Irv Miller said he’s stunned Van Dyke would do an interview now because the judge in Van Dyke’s murder trial had imposed a gag order on all involved in the case.
“I cannot believe the lawyers allowed this to happen,” Miller stated. “He mentioned how he would not use his weapon unless he was acting in self-defense, that he talks about how he prays for the family of Laquan McDonald – that’s this case and he’s talking about it.”
Miller said he sees irony in Van Dyke and his attorneys agreeing to an interview as they argue the case should be moved from Chicago because of all the pre-trail publicity.
“How can they complain about it now when they are the ones, in fact, doing it?” Miller questioned.
Laquan McDonald’s great uncle believes the goal was to portray Van Dyke as a victim.
“To create this thought, the idea for perspective jurors to hear, so that when they begin to present their case, the jurors can say ‘ah ha,’” said Pastor Hunter.
Irv Miller thinks the interview could “incur the wrath” of Judge Vincent Gaughn, known to be tough on lawyers.
Van Dyke’s attorney, who was with him when he did the interview, has not responded to CBS 2’s request for a statement.