5:59 p.m. Two alternate jurors say they would have voted or were leaning toward guilty verdict
Two alternates who have been dismissed from the jury as it was being sequestered told reporters Thursday afternoon that they would have voted guilty in the case or were leaning that way.
A male alternate said he would have definitely voted for first-degree murder in the case, while a female alternate said she would have at least considered the option of second-degree murder.
During the questioning of potential jurors three weeks, the male alternate, who is Latino, was described as a truck driver who immigrated from El Salvador in the 1980s. His son-in-law is a police officer on the Northwest Side.
The woman, who is white, works for a large law firm in Chicago.
The jury of eight women and four men, and three other alternates have been sequestered for the night.
More details to come.
5:31 p.m. Jurors end deliberations for the day without reaching a verdict
5:20 p.m. Jurors want a transcript of testimony, cigarette break
Jurors in the Jason Van Dyke murder trial have asked for a transcript of the testimony that his partner, Joseph Walsh, gave at trial — and two jurors want a cigarette break.
The request came after the jury had the case for more than four hours.
Walsh was called by the prosecution as a witness during the trial but gave a dramatic re-creation for the jury of how Laquan McDonald allegedly moved in a threatening manner just before Van Dyke shot him 16 times.
The judge decided to give the jury the transcript, minus any sidebar discussions he had with attorneys during the testimony.
Earlier, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan threatened to revoke Van Dyke’s bail because he was late making it to the courtroom to hear the jury’s request. Van Dyke said he had to deal with a threat at school against one of his children. The judge said he wanted evidence of a credible threat by Friday.
The judge said he will sequester the jury for the night, in addition to three alternates.
1:49 p.m. Head of the Chicago FOP praises the defense, calls for peace after verdict
Kevin Graham, the president of the main police union in Chicago, praised the job that the defense team for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in a news conference Thursday after the trial.
The FOP president also called for peace after the verdict, no matter which way it goes.
“I think that Dan Herbert, Jason Van Dyke’s attorney, did an excellent job explaining to the jury that the prosecution did not prove their case, not under the law, and not under a reasonable standard,” Graham said.
“Mr. Van Dyke acted as a police officer, defending himself and how he was taught and the training that he received,” Graham said.
“We do believe that we have put forth the best defense possible and I believe that the jury will see it that way. Although, it’s always up to the jury and we never know how a jury is going to make a determination.”
“I do ask that everybody keep in mind that this is a court of law and we do respect the rule of law.
“If it goes badly for Jason, we have an appeal, if it does not, I expect everyone to — if he is found not guilty, which is what we are expecting, I expect that the people of the city of Chicago will respect the rule of law.”
12:28 p.m. Murder case goes to the jury for deliberations
12:18 p.m. Judge instructs the jury on second-degree murder charge
Jurors in the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke have been instructed by Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan that they may find Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder.
However, the judge told them they must first find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Van Dyke committed first-degree murder. To do so, they must find that Van Dyke was not justified in using deadly force when he killed Laquan McDonald.
If jurors find prosecutors proved first-degree murder, they must consider whether, by a lower burden of proof, a mitigating factor has been proven. The judge told them they can consider whether Van Dyke believed deadly force to be justified under the circumstances but that his belief was unreasonable.
The jury is expected to be sequestered if they do not reach a verdict Thursday.
11:57 a.m. Closing arguments come to an end, judge begins instructing jury
Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon brought closing arguments to an end at 11:53 a.m.
He pointed to what he called the “biased, self-serving animation” produced by the defense team of Jason Van Dyke. He said it shows “the indefensible acts of murdering Laquan McDonald.”
“His own animation shows a murder and five counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, and it ends early,” McMahon said. “You know Laquan hits the ground hard and fast after it ends and you know what happens after — Jason Van Dyke firing, bullets ripping into the flesh of Laquan McDonald 16 times.”
“That’s not justified, that’s not necessary, that’s first-degree murder.”
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan immediately began to instruct the jury when McMahon finished.
11:46 a.m. McDonald ‘was not respecting the authority of the Chicago Police Department’
Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon told jurors, “you know now that Jason Van Dyke was already asking why somebody didn’t shoot Laquan McDonald before he even arrived on the scene.”
“Before he made any attempt to assess the situation himself, he made the decision to shoot as soon as he heard Laquan was defying the orders to stop and drop the knife,” McMahon said. “He chose not to wait and see how other police officers who were already on the scene — some for minutes —how they were handling the situation.”
McMahon said that McDonald “was not respecting the authority of the Chicago Police Department and the orders to stop and drop the knife.”
He said, “the decision to fire that first shot was completely unnecessary.”
McMahon said Van Dyke was on a “collision course” with McDonald and “created the confrontation.”
“And then he began to empty every bullet from his gun into the body of Laquan McDonald,” McMahon said.
11:42 a.m. ‘This proves it was not necessary to shoot Laquan McDonald.’
Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon took note of the four reasons Jason Van Dyke claimed he killed Laquan McDonald.
McDonald had a knife, he was within 12 to 15 feet of Van Dyke, he ignored Van Dyke’s orders to drop the knife, and he had “big bulging eyes and looked right at him.”
“Based on those four reasons, those four reasons alone, the defendant told you it was necessary to shoot and continue to shoot Laquan McDonald until he laid motionless on Pulaski,” McMahon said.
The prosecutor then began comparing Van Dyke to others who crossed paths with McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014. He noted that truck driver Rudy Barillas fended McDonald off with a handful of rocks. “Not a scratch on him,” McMahon said. Then he pointed to Officer Joseph McElligott, whose encounter was “more confrontational than what Jason Van Dyke faced.”
McMahon said McElligott exercised “patience.”
“This proves it was not necessary to shoot Laquan McDonald,” McMahon said.
11:29 a.m. Final argument underway: ‘Jason Van Dyke didn’t value the life of Laquan McDonald’
The final argument by prosecutors in the trial of Jason Van Dyke is underway. It is being delivered by Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon.
“We’re here because Jason Van Dyke didn’t value the life of Laquan McDonald enough to do anything but shoot him,” McMahon said as he began his argument. “In fact, we know defendant Jason Van Dyke was contemplating shooting Laquan before he even arrived. Before he ever laid eyes on Laquan McDonald.”
McMahon also told jurors that prosecutors are not required to prove a motive.
11:13 a.m. ‘You follow your heart, you follow your soul, you follow your mind’
As defense attorney Dan Herbert wrapped up his his closing argument, he told jurors, “you follow your heart, you follow your soul, you follow your mind.”
Then he told jurors there was “one decision you can make. And that’s not guilty.”
11:10 a.m. ‘The rest of those shots — irrelevant’
Defense attorney Dan Herbert said Laquan McDonald “was killed with that first or second shot as he was turned to face Jason Van Dyke with his knife raised, ready to attack.”
“The rest of those shots —irrelevant,” Herbert said.
Herbert made the comments as he attacked the notion that each of the 16 shots fired at McDonald contributed to his death. He noted there was little blood on the road at the scene of McDonald’s shooting.
“Why wasn’t there a lot of blood?” Herbert asked. He pointed to his chest and said, “it was all in here.” He argued that McDonald bled internally from one shot a defense pathologist said was fatal.
10:56 a.m. ‘Did you see any evidence that race had anything to do with this case?’
Jason Van Dyke’s attorney attacked the notion that race motivated the officer’s decision to shoot Laquan McDonald.
“You see any evidence of that?” Dan Herbert said.
Herbert then paraphrased a comment by prosecutors during opening statements: “Jason was angry at the young black boy.”
“Remember that in opening?” Herbert said. “Did you see any evidence that race had anything to do with this case? When you don’t have evidence, you use argument.”
10:51 a.m. ‘Jason Van Dyke wasn’t in a movie. It wasn’t a video game. This was real life.’
Defense attorney Dan Herbert set out to use the prosecutors’ own witnesses against them as he justified Jason Van Dyke’s shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Among the many pieces of testimony Herbert pointed to were comments by Urey Patrick, the use-of-force expert who testified for the prosecution. He noted that Patrick said police do not have to give a person they are confronting “a fair chance,” and that police continue to use deadly force until they “perceive” the threat has ended.
Herbert said prosecutors want the jury to believe the shooting should have ended as soon as McDonald hit the ground.
“It’s not true,” Herbert said. “It’s not true. It’s not what their witness said. It’s not what the evidence is in this case.”
Herbert also compared the shooting to a “monster movie.”
“Jason Van Dyke wasn’t in a movie,” Herbert said. “It wasn’t a video game. This was real life.”
10:34 a.m. After the video, prosecutors’ case ‘went downhill’
Defense attorney Dan Herbert told jurors “the video is not enough” and asked whether prosecutors’ case against Jason Van Dyke got any better after they played it.
“Their case, from there, went downhill,” Herbert said.
In fact, Herbert said the infamous dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s final moments “is essentially meaningless based upon all the testimony. It shows a perspective, but not the right perspective.”
Herbert also ticked off several points, each of which he said created “reasonable doubt.”
Several came from the testimony of Officer Joseph McElligott, who acknowledged that McDonald’s behavior “raised the threat level.” And whether McDonald was stabbing at McElligott’s car or allegedly attacking truck driver Rudy Barillas, Herbert said the geen had a pattern of attacking when confronted.
“The threat level is rising each and every time,” Herbert said.
10:23 a.m. ‘Jason Van Dyke chose you’
Defense attorney Dan Herbert began his closing argument by telling jurors, “Jason Van Dyke chose you to decide his fate.”
Herbert thanked jurors for their work, but he told them, “your job is just beginning.”
Herbert walked over to Van Dyke, gestured to his client and said, “now you have to make a determination that decides the fate of Jason Van Dyke.” And then, walking into the courtroom gallery toward Van Dyke’s wife, Herbert added, “his family.”
The judge then sustained an objection from prosecutors.
Herbert said juries are important because “it’s us the people that can protect somebody against an overzealous prosecutor, protect somebody against tyrannous acts, and that’s why Jason Van Dyke chose you guys to decide his fate.”
Herbert also warned jurors about “branding” a person as a murderer “for the rest of his life.” And he told them not to fall for “fake tears” from the prosecutors for McDonald.
“Had Laquan McDonald dropped that knife and given up, they would have prosecuted him,” Herbert said. “They would have put him back in that cage.”
Herbert told jurors: “It’s a tragedy but not a murder.”
He argued that “the video is not enough” and that the prosecution’s case never got any better than what’s on it.
10:11 a.m. Prosecutor finishes argument; ‘No one is above the law’
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason challenged Jason Van Dyke’s testimony —and the events he described that don’t appear on the infamous police dashcam footage of Laquan McDonald’s shooting.
Gleason noted that Van Dyke testified that at one point he had planned on opening his police vehicle’s door to knock McDonald down but called that claim “not believable” because the vehicle was never close enough to do it.
She cited other inconsistencies about the shooting itself.
Gleason said Van Dyke described McDonald raising his knife across his body, pointing it at Van Dyke.
“It’s not on the video,” Gleason said. “It’s not on the defendant’s own animation of what supposedly happened that night.”
She noted that Van Dyke on the witness stand described McDonald trying to get up off the ground, trying to push up, after he had been shot, but argued the video shows none of that.
“Does it appear to you that Laquan McDonald was ever getting up after he hit the ground?” Gleason asked. “The answer’s no.”
As Gleason finished her closing argument at 10:08 a.m., she told the jurors “no one is above the law.”
10:02 a.m. ‘Each one of those shots is a crime’
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason told jurors they could find Jason Van Dyke guilty of first-degree murder “if you believe just one of the bullets killed (McDonald).”
That’s because, Gleason said, McDonald “needed every drop of blood in his body.” She said the teenager “bled to death, so every one of those shots contributed to his death. They shortened his life. Maybe he would have lived a little bit longer if he hadn’t been shot all those times.”
As she explained the criminal charges against Van Dyke — including the 16 aggravated battery charges he faces — Gleason told jurors that McDonald was “riddled, broken and bleeding when the defendant finished those 16 shots.
“And each one of those shots is a crime,” Gleason said. “Aggravated battery with a firearm.”
Gleason stressed that every shot Van Dyke fired mattered.
“Laquan McDonald was entitled to the best chance of survival. Each shot robbed him of that chance of survival,” Gleason said.
“The last moments of his life are important,” Gleason said. “The defendant made those last moments of his life a nightmare.”
9:51 a.m. Prosecutor says ‘this is not the Wild West out here’
As Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason continued her closing argument, she told jurors, “this is not the Wild West out here, when an officer can use deadly force … and try to justify it later.
“When he was a block and a half away, he was contemplating shooting him,” Gleason said.
The prosecutor said Jason Van Dyke “shot too early, he shot too often, and he shot for way too long.”
9:48 a.m. Prosecutor says judge will give jurors the option of second-degree murder.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason told jurors they will be given the option of finding Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder.
9:46 a.m. ‘Laquan McDonald was never going to walk home that night’
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason kicked off closing arguments in the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in dramatic fashion.
“Laquan McDonald was never going to walk home that night,” she said as she began her argument. “The defendant decided that on the way to the scene. You heard what it was that he said. ‘I guess we’ll have to shoot him.’ It wasn’t the knife in Laquan’s hand that made the defendant kill him that night. It was his indifference to the value of Laquan’s life.”
Gleason said that, from the time Van Dyke fired the last shot to the time a fellow officer called the police union, “this case has been about exaggerating the threat and trying to hide behind the police shield.”
“Why?” she said. “Because there’s no justification for shooting Laquan McDonald that night. Not one shot. Not the first shot. Not the 16th shot.”
She added that Laquan McDonald is not trial, despite the defense’s efforts to bring out his violent history and clashes with juvenile jail guards.
Gleason argued that McDonald’s past is irrelevant because Van Dyke knew nothing about him that night.
9:41 a.m. Closing arguments are underway
6:58 a.m. Closing arguments, then the jury gets to work
After more than 40 witnesses, including the testimony of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, as well as videos played dozens of times, the jury of eight women and four men are set to hear closing arguments Thursday and get the case to begin deliberations.
The prosecution gets first crack at the jury in closings, followed by the defense. Then the prosecutors gets the last word since they bear the burden of proof. Expect the jury to receive the case Thursday afternoon.
Van Dyke, 40, faces two counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct.
A critical part of the case is the jury instructions. They are a dry set of legal instructions that the judge reads to the jury after the closing arguments are finished. But they tell jurors what the law is in the case and whether they can consider less serious crimes — in this case, for instance, second-degree murder. It will be important to see if the jury gets the chance to do that in this case, a decision most often made by the defense.
The prosecutors and defense attorneys discussed those instructions behind closed doors Wednesday with the judge, and the public will hear them for the first time when they are read to the jurors.
The jurors may begin deliberations Thursday afternoon, but it would be rather quick work for them if they come back with a verdict Thursday.
Check back here throughout the day for live updates on the closing arguments and jury instructions.
Here’s the analysis of what the jury can expect to hear from Sun-Times reporters Andy Grimm and Jon Seidel: