Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke listens during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

Van Dyke Trial Day 17: Pfleger calls for city shutdown if Van Dyke is acquitted

SHARE Van Dyke Trial Day 17: Pfleger calls for city shutdown if Van Dyke is acquitted
SHARE Van Dyke Trial Day 17: Pfleger calls for city shutdown if Van Dyke is acquitted

12:51 p.m. Pfleger calls for the city to shut down if Van Dyke is acquitted

The Rev. Michael Pfleger is calling for the city to shut down if Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is acquitted in the slaying of Laquan McDonald.

In a Facebook post on Monday, the activist priest wrote: “Several of us are in agreement that when the Van Dyke verdict comes down that if it is Anything Less than a CONVICTION, the next day Chicago should SHUT DOWN… NO ONE SHOULD GO TO WORK, SCHOOL, ANY STORES….A COMPLETE SHUT DOWN…to send an Economic message of Outrage. EVERY person of Conscience should commit to this….To show that this outrage is bigger than the Black Community.”

Pfleger has led many large marches against violence and social injustice, including most recently the protest that shut down the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway in July.

Community activist William Calloway, who has organized protests outside the Leighton Criminal Court Building where the trial is being held, also called for the a shutdown of the city if justice isn’t served in the case.

“We want people to rise up,” Calloway said, calling for a peaceful response. “We want city workers to take off work.”

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson appeared at the criminal courthouse Monday morning. Wilson called for peaceful demonstrations after the verdict and pointed to the case as underscoring the deep rift between the police and the communities they serve. Wilson, for instance, said that when police stop him, he’s afraid.

“When the police stop myself . . . I put my hands on the steering wheel and leave them there. I do not move . . . I am frightened when police stop me, OK?” Wilson said.

The defense is expected to wrap up its case this week. There was no trial Monday because a juror was out sick, but the case resumes Tuesday.

9:42 a.m. An explanation is now offered: a juror is sick, judge says

Judge Vincent Gaughan has now offered an explanation of why the trial is cancelled for Monday — a juror called in sick.

The trial will resume Tuesday, with the defense putting on the rest of its case.

9:30 a.m. Trial ends before it even gets going

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan said there have been some “difficulties” that prevent the case from moving forward Monday, so he said there would be no evidence heard at all.

But the trial is to resume Tuesday.

As is typical of the case cloaked in secrecy, the judge offered no explanation for the delay, such as a scheduling conflict for a witness.

The defense was scheduled to call Dr. Laurence Miller to the witness stand, to talk about what Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke went through mentally just before and during the shooting.

9:05 a.m. ‘We’ve had a development’

The judge presiding over the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke said simply, “we’ve had a development” Monday morning before calling attorneys into his chambers to discuss it.

Van Dyke’s defense team was expected to wrap up its case as early as Monday. It’s not clear how long attorneys will be meeting with Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan.


As the defense wraps up its case this week, the key question for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is will he take the stand in his own defense.

Jurors may learn as early as Monday whether that will happen. Conventional wisdom says defendants should avoid getting grilled by prosecutors, but there’s nothing conventional about this murder trial.

Veteran defense attorneys differ on the smartest course of action. Some argue that in a self-defense case like Van Dyke’s, taking the stand is crucial. Others point out the high risk of being forced to explain each of the 16 shots Van Dyke fired at Laquan McDonald, many of them while McDonald was on the ground. And there’s the possibility prosecutors could delve into other complaints Van Dyke faced as a cop in his past.

There’s a way the defense may be able to get Van Dyke’s perspective on the shooting without calling him to the stand. On Monday jurors may hear testimony from a psychologist, Dr. Laurence Miller, who is expected to tell jurors what effect the stress of the events leading up to the shooting had on Van Dyke’s perception of it. And of course, the defense has already shown jurors their animated re-creation of the shooting from Van Dyke’s viewpoint.

Sun-Times reporter Andy Grimm has more details here on the potential risks and rewards of Van Dyke testifying Grimm and his colleague Jon Seidel provide a video wrap-up of the latest in the case here:

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