CHICAGO (CBS)–Jason Van Dyke took the witness stand on Tuesday in his murder trial, telling jurors the infamous video of the shooting does not show what he saw when he shot and killed Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke insisted the teenager raised a knife across his body, prompting the officer to open fire.
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Barry Brodd, a defense expert on police use of force, told jurors he believes the shooting was justified.
The prosecution is continuing to cross-examine Van Dyke, focusing questioning on the moments when McDonald is alleged to have raised the knife.
Asked where on the infamous dashboard camera video of the shooting he can see McDonald raising the knife, Van Dyke said, “The video doesn’t show my perspective.”
Van Dyke also testified he didn’t have time to move behind his squad car to protect himself before shooting McDonald.
“There was no time to look for any barrier, and if I had backed up, I would have backed up against a wall,” Van Dyke said, referring to his squad car. “In that six seconds, he got a lot closer to me than I ever could have gone away from him around the squad car.”
He also insisted, although he can be seen on video moving closer to McDonald as he shoots, he believed at the time he was backing away.
“I thought I was backpedaling that night,” he said. “What I know now and what I thought at that time are two different things.”
“What I know now and what I knew then are two different things,” Van Dyke said on the witness stand.
The prosecution is cross-examining Van Dyke. An animated reenactment of the shooting that was originally presented by the defense was played multiple times, with the prosecution asking Van Dyke whether he made the decision to shop shooting that night.
“Yes I did,” Van Dyke said. “Once I recognized that he hit the ground.”
He said he re-assessed the situation once he lowered his weapon.
After I recognized the fact that he fell to the ground, I lowered my weapon. “After re-assessing the situation that had been it.”
“I shot at that knife. I wanted him to get rid of that knife.”
Van Dyke said he doesn’t recall statements he made to detectives after the shooting.
“The whole thing was just–shocking to me,” Van Dyke said.
The prosecution played a video that shows McDonald walking down the street while several feet away from the police vehicle Van Dyke said he opened the door of in an attempt to block McDonald,
“Did you know the taser was on the way?” the prosecution asked.
Van Dyke paused for several seconds before replying that he was unsure.
“His huge white eyes just staring right at me,” Van Dyke said. “He never stopped advancing toward me.”
Van Dyke said he got 10-15 feet away from McDonald, and “his eyes were bugging out and expressionless.”
“He waved the knife across his lower right upwards across his shoulder toward my body,” Van Dyke testified.
Standing up from the witness stand and holding his hands to mimic his grip on a gun, Van Dyke said he started yelling at McDonald repeatedly to drop the gun.
Breathing heavily, Van Dyke said, “I held my gun like this. I started to approach and started yelling at him to drop that knife.”
Van Dyke said he shot at the knife and says he “wanted him to stay on the ground because it would be an easier position for us to take him into custody,”
Jason Van Dyke has taken the witness stand to testify in his own defense.
Describing the morning of the shooting of Laquan McDonald, Van Dyke says he had breakfast with his kids. He says he next went to work as a security guard at the Walmart in Cicero until 4 p.m., and went home and took a nap before reporting for his shift at the CPD at 9 p.m.
Judge Gaughan stopped testimony and held a man sitting in the media section in contempt of court for recording in the courtroom, a violation of the decorum order.
The prosecution is cross-examining psychologist Dr. Laurence Miller, who admitted Van Dyke’s defense team pays him $10,000 per day of testimony.
Court began Tuesday around 10:10 a.m., with the defense calling its first witness of the day, Dr. Laurence Miller, a psychologist. He is the 17th defense witness called since the trial began. The prosecution has called 24 witnesses during the trial.
Miller testified about what happens to the human brain during moments of stress or extreme threat.
“The memory for exactly what is taking place is not exactly what is the brain’s priority at that point,” Miller said. “In an emergency situation, if something’s bad, you gotta do something–you’ve gotta escape, but you can’t just escape–you have to neutralize the threat because that’s your job.”