[Watch live coverage of the trial in the player above. Opening statements are expected around 10:30 EST.]
Jurors in Cook County, Illinois is hearing the first-degree murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Prosecutors said he should go to prison for what they argue is the unjustified shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. Other charges include aggravated battery and official misconduct.
Video of the incident shows Van Dyke opening fire on McDonald. He allegedly shot him 16 times. Police said McDonald had a knife in his hand and did not follow orders to put it down. (Warning: Graphic.)
Prosecutors argued that the officer shouldn’t have opened fire at that time. The defendant contested the charges.
“The video by nature is two dimensional so the problem is it distorts distances, and distances and depth perception are important,” said Van Dyke’s defence lawyer Dan Herbert, according to NBC Chicago. “The most critical problem is that the video does not depict what my client was seeing. It is not a video from the eyes of my client.”
Then there is the race element to all of this. McDonald’s shooting happened amid a fraught national debate as to whether people of color, especially black men, are less likely to get due process, and more likely to be brutalized by cops. McDonald was black, Van Dyke is white, and the shooting sparked protests.
Only one of the 12 jurors is black. Seven have been reported to be white. One is apparently Asian, according to The Chicago Tribune. The remaining three are Hispanic women, including one who has passed the exam to join the Chicago Police Department. Of the five alternates, who were not sworn in, two are black.
The one African American juror among the 12 reportedly said she had seen the video of the shooting, and acknowledged having an opinion about the amount of shots fired by Van Dyke, but said she had no opinion about the officer’s guilt.
[Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images]
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