Journalist’s Sources At Issue in Chicago’s McDonald Case

The trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for killing teenager Laquan McDonald is being delayed over a demand by Van Dyke for the sources of journalist Jamie Kalven, who brought the case to prominence.

Jamie Kalven, an independent journalist in Chicago, brought to light the case of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a police officer as he walked down a street holding a folding knife. Kalven questioned the official police account of the shooting and revealed the existence of a police dashboard-camera video that documented the episode. Chicago officials were forced to release the video, which showed McDonald, 17, being shot again and again one night in 2014, even after he lay crumpled on the street. Three years later, Kalven finds himself forced back into the case, subpoenaed by lawyers for police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder in McDonald’s death. the New York Times reports.

Kalven has been called to appear next month at a pretrial hearing in which Van Dyke’s lawyers are seeking to learn the source of the information that Kalven published about the shooting long before the video was made public. It is a diversion from the question of Van Dyke’s guilt or innocence, and another delay in the most closely watched murder case in Chicago. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty but no trial date has been set. Van Dyke’s lawyer suggested that Kalven obtained leaked documents and may have passed along that information to witnesses of the shooting, influencing their accounts to investigators. The fight over Kalven’s sources threatens delaying a trial that many Chicagoans say should have already begun. Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute, a local news organization, is prepared to fight what he sees as a broadside on his First Amendment rights. His lawyer called the effort an “unjustified fishing expedition.” Kalven said, “I’m not revealing my sources.”