CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s defense attorneys will begin presenting evidence on Monday, following four days of testimony from witnesses for the prosecution in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
Van Dyke is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery, and one count of official misconduct for shooting McDonald 16 times in 2014.
Jurors have viewed the infamous dashboard camera video of the fatal shooting at least six times. Now the defense will have to convince the panel that Van Dyke shot McDonald out of fear for his life and that of his partner.
It’s unclear if Van Dyke will take the stand in his own defense, but his attorneys are expected to call their own expert witnesses, including a pathologist, a psychologist, and an expert on police use of force.
CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal defense attorney, said he believes Van Dyke will testify on his own behalf. He said a round of media interviews Van Dyke gave days ahead of jury selection could be viewed as something of a practice run ahead of the grilling he could face on the stand.
Another major issue the defense will have to weigh is whether to ask Judge Vincent Gaughan to allow the jury to consider second-degree murder charges against Van Dyke.
“The defense could say, ‘Judge, we want the jury to deliberate on three things: not guilty, second-degree, and of course the first-degree.’ So that gives the jury a chance to compromise between a not guilty and a first-degree if that’s in the cards,” Miller said.
Miller said the defense also might choose not to present a case, if they believe the prosecution failed to prove Van Dyke is guilty of murder.
Two protests have been planned for outside the courthouse on Monday. One will be held by the anti-violence organization GoodKids MadCity, and the other was organized by United Methodists and Community Renewal Society.