A tearful Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke recounted for a rapt jury what was going through his mind as he fired 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald four years ago, It remains to be seen whether his testimony helped his cause. The defense plans to rest its case on Wednesday.
In a soft, halting voice, a tearful Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke recounted for a rapt jury what was going through his mind as he fired 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald four years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. On Oct. 20, 2014, Van Dyke recalled jumping out of his squad car and locking eyes with McDonald as the teen advanced on him, holding a knife. “We never lost eye contact. Eyes were bugging out, his face was just expressionless,” said Van Dyke, choking up. “He turned his torso towards me . . . He waved the knife from his lower right side upwards across his body towards my left shoulder.” “When he did that, what did you do?” defense lawyer Randy Rueckert asked. “I shot him,” Van Dyke said
Van Dyke’s 90 minutes on the witness stand came as his defense team prepared to rest their case Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether the officer’s risky decision to take the stand helped his cause in a case that will hinge on whether jurors believe Van Dyke was justified in shooting McDonald. Statements Van Dyke made to his partner as they drove may prove more damaging than anything the officer said on the stand. Talking to psychologist Laurence Miller a few months after he was charged, Van Dyke, 40, said when he heard over a police radio that McDonald had stabbed the tire and windshield of a police cruiser, Van Dyke said to his partner, “Why didn’t they shoot him if he’s attacking them?” Before Van Dyke had laid eyes on the teen, he remarked, “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot the guy.” Miller testified that Van Dyke could have suffered from “time distortion” and likely reacted out of reflex when he opened fire.