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Frank Chapman recaps developments in trial of cop who killed Laquan McDonald

By staff |
September 27, 2018
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Chicago, IL - Frank Chapman is Field Organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, a leading organization in the fight against police crimes in Chicago. The Alliance created the legislation for the elected, Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that is gaining support among progressive candidates for the Chicago city council. The Alliance also has led the mobilization of over 400 people since the Sept. 5 start of the trial of Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

Here, Chapman assesses the strategy of Van Dyke’s attorney, Daniel Herbert, the house lawyer for the Fraternal Order of the Police. The trial is in its second week. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, the defense presented an animated video that claimed to present the perspective of Van Dyke when he exited his vehicle and began firing at Laquan within six seconds.

On the defense in the Van Dyke trial

“The defense's strategy has been to put Laquan McDonald (the victim) here on trial. And the judge has allowed it to happen. The video created by the defense was just that - a ‘creation’ ignoring the controls of reality. Compared to the actual dash cam video taken from a police car, the video created by the defense was a complete distortion of what really happened, and the prosecution proved this by simply replaying the dash cam video of Laquan McDonald's murder.

Let's just walk through this for a minute.

First, the defense brings in a forensic pathologist to argue that Laquan was shot 15 times before he hit the ground and therefore was shot only once while on the ground. Whereas the dash cam video shows that after the first two shots Laquan was down on the ground and Jason Van Dyke continued to carefully aim and shoot Laquan 14 time while he lay on the ground helpless.

Second, the defense has been allowed by the judge and prosecution to call up as witnesses police officers who were at the scene of the crime, yet all of these officers originally wrote false reports as to what happened. None of them were impeached by the prosecution for having lied on their police reports.

Third, the defense has been allowed to use Laquan's juvenile record as evidence of Laquan being a violent criminal. Yet when Jason Van Dyke arrived on the scene and shot Laquan 16 time he had no knowledge of his juvenile record or anything except he was a Black suspect.

Our assessment is that there is nothing about this trial that is fair and impartial. From the time of the murder in 2014 there has been repeated efforts to not bring Jason Van Dyke to justice. For 400 days while Mayor Emanuel suppressed the dash cam video, Van Dyke continued to work as a CPD police officer and it’s taken nearly three years since he was indicted in 2015 to finally come to trial. The dilatory tactics of the defense and the judge to drag out this case has succeeded in delaying, and justice delayed is justice denied. Then the jury selection where there is only one Black person on the jury.

And now that this heinous crime has finally come before the bar to be tried it is with a presiding tyrannical judge who has held in contempt spectators - movement people, and held them incommunicado for days and set outrageous bails. A judge who restricts public participation by setting up a process that requires everyone to register to attend this trial.

Still and all, were it not for mass protests and public outrage over the murder of Laquan McDonald we would not have gotten this far, where, for the first time in the history of Chicago, a white, on-duty cop has been indicted and tried for first degree murder. If we stay focused and continue, no matter what, to protest, I believe we can make this the first time for a cop to be convicted of first degree murder of a Black person.

We are obligated to fight back and our conviction is we know that we will win. Keep coming to the trial, keep protesting - for Laquan McDonald gave us the cause that we need to sacrifice what we must to win.”

Justice for Laquan, CPAC Now, All Power to the People!