CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke had a big decision to make Friday.
Should a jury or a judge decide his fate in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald?
Van Dyke went with the jury choice.
CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen on why that might be a big gamble.
Jason Van Dyke walked into the criminal courts building Friday morning for another hearing. Inside the courtroom his defense attorney spoke on his behalf before t he judge.
“The defendant will opt for a jury trial,” said Van Dyke attorney Daniel Herbert. It comes just one day after the jury is picked in the murder trial with 12 jurors and five alternate jurors.
The jury is made up of 12 people: seven white, three Hispanic, one Asian American and one African American.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller believes Van Dyke is taking a huge risk.
“I think it’s a gamble to go for a jury trial when you’re charged with first degree murder,” said Miller. “You could spend the rest of your life in jail leaving it in the hands of the jury. You never know what a jury is going to do.”
Miller said typically when police officers are on trial they would rather have a judge hear the case.
“Judges know what the potential penalties are,” said Miller. “Jurors really don’t. That’s a major factor in a case like this.”
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times. The 2014 shooting was captured on police dashcam video and sparked national attention. The city of Chicago is bracing for more protests in the weeks ahead.
“This justice for Laquan McDonald is a non violent movement. It is a peaceful movement,” said activist William Calloway.
The judge on Friday did not rule on the change of venue motion. The defense has been pushing to move this case out of Cook County. The judge said the jury will be sworn in Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.
The judge is expected to rule on the possible change of venue during Monday’s court hearing. That’s also when opening statements could start.