CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman who called 911 about Laquan McDonald hours before he was shot and killed said he had asked to borrow her car even though she’d never met him, but in testimony that could hurt Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s defense against murder charges, said he never acted aggressively, and “seemed like he was a nice young guy.”
Yvette Patterson, who called 911 around 3 a.m. the day McDonald was killed, said she was coming home from a party and saw the teenager sitting on the steps as she pulled into the alley behind her home. Patterson said he came up to her and asked to borrow her car.
She thought the question was strange, since she had never met McDonald before, but she said he was not aggressive and she wasn’t afraid, but decided to call police as a precaution, because she didn’t know him.
“I wasn’t in fear at all. I wasn’t in fear,” she said. “He seemed like he was a nice young guy.”
Patterson said, although McDonald’s relatives live next door, she had never seen him before, and didn’t find out who he was until the next day, when she heard about the shooting on the news. Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald around 10 p.m. the night of his encounter with Patterson.
Her testimony was very different from how defense attorney Dan Herbert described the encounter to jurors in his opening statement. Herbert told the jury McDonald tried to steal her car, and she was so frightened she called 911.
Before testimony began Thursday morning, Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered attorneys from the Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities program to release some of Laquan McDonald’s records. TASC provides drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services to people in the court system.
Van Dyke’s attorneys had subpoenaed McDonald’s records from TASC, but the program’s attorneys wanted to quash the subpoena, citing privacy protections. Gaughan ruled, since McDonald is dead, and Van Dyke is charged with murder, TASC must hand over the records. Prosecutors are still seeking to block those records from being presented as evidence, arguing they aren’t relevant.
After Patterson took the stand, defense attorneys called pharmacologist Dr. James Thomas O’Donnell to the stand to testify about the possible effects of PCP on McDonald. An autopsy determined McDonald had PCP in his system at the time of his death.
Thursday’s last witness, retired Chicago Police Officer Nicholas Pappas, an instructor at the police academy in 2001 when Van Dyke was there, testified recruits were taught that when they fire at a suspect, to keep shooting “until the threat is eliminated.”
“There’s no telling how many rounds it will take to do that,” he said.
Pappas also testified recruits are taught knives can be even more dangerous than guns, because they can pierce bulletproof vests.
Earlier, Gaughan prevented the defense from showing the jury videos from police academy training programs. Prosecutors objected to the videos, because of how late in the trial the defense asked to present them as evidence.
The judge also has barred testimony from a DCFS caseworker, who would have told jurors about an investigation that might have resulted in the teen being removed from the home where he was living with his uncle, and being placed in jail. Gaughan also would not allow defense attorneys to call a witness who would have testified about McDonald testing positive for PCP on court-ordered drug tests.