CHICAGO (CBS)–The jury has been sent to deliberate the verdict in the Jason Van Dyke murder trial after ten days of testimony that culminated today with closing arguments.
With a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, it is Chicago’s most watched murder trial in recent history. The verdict is likely to spark strong emotions across the city.
After they were first sent back to begin deliberations, jurors were twice called back to the courtroom as Judge Vincent Gaughan gave them additional instructions, after consulting with prosecutors and defense attorneys.
The jury’s options are to convict or acquit Van Dyke of first-degree murder or to convict him of a lesser charge of second-degree murder. Jurors could convict on second-degree murder if they determine the defense showed Van Dyke believed the shooting was justified, but that his belief was not reasonable.
In addition to the two murder charges–which Van Dyke had pleaded not guilty to–the Chicago police officer is also charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct. Four additional murder charges were dropped.
Highlights from today’s court proceedings:
- The prosecution has rested its case against Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke after giving the jury the option to deliberate a second degree murder charge. The second-degree murder conviction allows the jury the option to convict on a lesser charge if they determine the defense showed Van Dyke believed the shooting was justified, but that his belief was not reasonable.
- Defense attorney Dan Herbert painted Laquan McDonald as a “deranged” monster whose drug use caused behavior that appeared threatening to police officers responding to a call on Oct. 20, 2014 that McDonald was burglarizing trucks.
- To demonstrate how simple it would have been for McDonald to drop the knife in the moments of the shooting, Herbert dropped the actual knife McDonald was carrying the night he was fatally shot.
12 p.m. Judge Vincent Gaughan explains the jury’s instructions for deliberating the verdicts on the murder charges
11:45 a.m. If Van Dyke waited for the taser to arrive, he could have avoided shooting McDonald: Prosecution
“The defendant has committed serious crimes, and he must be held accountable,” said prosecutor Joseph McMahon.
11:11 a.m. Judge Vincent Gaughan has called a 10-minute recess.
11 a.m. Defense revisits testimony from Van Dyke’s partner
The defense is stressing testimony from Van Dyke’s partner Joseph Walsh, who said on the witness stand that the infamous video of the shooting doesn’t show the shooting from Van Dyke’s perspective.
Walsh, Van Dyke’s strongest witness, previously testified that McDonald posed a danger and that Van Dyke had a reasonable fear for his safety.
Herbert told the court McDonald looked “deranged.”
McDonald was burglarizing trucks that night–a point Herbert says is important to remember when jurors consider police can use deadly force to prevent someone from escaping arrest for a forcible entry.
Herbert also pointed to the autopsy results that showed each shot contributed to McDonald’s death. He says the results weren’t credible, which he evidenced with the absence of the doctor in court. The prosecution instead brought a different doctor to the witness stand.
“Why didn’t they bring her in?” Herbert asked. “Because she screwed up.”
The pathologist the defense brought in testified that just one of the shots was fatal.
10:20 a.m. Defense begins closing arguments
“The state has to prove every one of those charges and the elements within those charges,” Herbert said.
9:40 a.m. Prosecution rests
The prosecution claims McDonald had made up his mind to shoot McDonald before he had even arrived at the scene of where the teenager was killed.
“Laquan wasn’t doing anything at that moment to make it necessary to shoot him,” special prosecutor Jody Gleason said. The defendant had a million other options he could’ve used other than firing that gun.”
Jurors are given the option to deliberate a second degree murder charge.
The trial’s implications for the City of Chicago:
The shooting of African American teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014 and the city’s delay in releasing the footage showing Van Dyke shooting the 17-year-old 16 times sparked racially-charged outrage across the city in 2015, with prolonged street protests held everywhere from downtown to smaller neighborhoods.
Chicago police have assigned officers to 12-hour shifts with no days off until the verdict’s aftermath–whatever that may be–is over.
Crowd control and violence-suppression efforts will be similar to tactics used during the NATO protests and past Chicago Bulls championship celebrations.
Tactical officers and special operations units will be heavily armored, police said.
The trial has lasted 11 days, with 40 witnesses. Now 12 jurors will have the final say. Is Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of first degree murder?
Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday in the Van Dyke murder trial. The Chicago Police Department said it is increasing police patrols around the city in preparation for the verdict.
When court began Wednesday in the Jason Van Dyke trial, a day after the police officer charged with murder took the stand, Van Dyke’s defense team rolled out the police car’s tire that Laquan McDonald slashed the night he was shot. The defense team rested its case after the tire was admitted as evidence.
Officer Jason Van Dyke testified in court Tuesday, taking the stand in his own defense. He claimed he just wanted Laquan McDonald to drop his knife.
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.