Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke’s testimony in court: Word for word

SHARE Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke’s testimony in court: Word for word

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke took the stand in his criminal trial on Oct. 2, 2018.

Three days later – on Oct. 5, 2018 – he was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald. Here is a transcript of Van Dyke’s testimony:

[Direct examination of defense attorney Randy Rueckert]

RUECKERT: Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury your name, please, and spell your last name for the court, please?

Jason Van Dyke. V-a-n, D-y-k-e.

How old are you, Jason?

I’m 40 years old.

Are you married?

Yes, I’m married to my wife, and we have two children.

How old are your children?

My children are 17 and 12.

Could you tell us about your educational background?

I have a bachelor’s in in business from St. Xavier’s University.

When did you join the Chicago Police Department?

June 25th of 2001.

So how old were you when you joined the Chicago Police Department?


The first thing you do when you joined the Chicago Police Department was what?

I went to the Chicago Police Academy.

How long were you in the academy?

About 30 weeks.

And then you were assigned a job right? You were assigned a district to go to?


Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke takes the stand at his murder trial Tuesday. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke takes the stand at his murder trial Tuesday. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

What was the first district you went to?

The first district I went to was the 9th District over on 35th and Lowell.

And what were your jobs and duties when you first got to the 9th district?

I was assigned as a patrol officer. I had three cycles there, and I continued working in the 9th district.

And when you say three cycles, what are you talking about?

Three training cycles with different training officers and senior officers.

So you would ride around with the training officers for three of those cycles, correct?


So how long did that take?

Each cycle was roughly one month.

And you stayed at the 9th District for how long?

I was there for about two years.

Where did you go after the 9th District?

While I was at the 9th District I was detailed out to the traffic unit and the area one saturation team.

And where was that district located?

Traffic unit was downtown, off of 18th and State. And the Area One saturation team was out of the first deputy chief’s office at 51st and Wentworth.

Judge Gaughan: Excuse me, could I have the attorneys over here please [attorneys conference at bench]

Did you have another occasion to go to another district after that?

I went to the 7th District, which is located at 61st and Racine.

And what were your duties and responsibilities at the 7th District?

I was a patrol officer.

How long were you at the 7th District?

I was there for a few months.

And the 7th District you said was at 61st and what?


Is that the Englewood district?

I’m sorry?

Is that the Englewood district?

Yes it is.

All right. And where’d you go after you left the Englewood district?

I was asked to go to the Targeted Response Unit.

Explain to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what the Targeted Response Unit is.

A unit made up of essentially 10-man teams, and you were assigned at the discretion of the department to go to high-crime areas. You were responsible for crime suppression, targeting gang members and gang activity.

How long were you in that unit?

Almost since the start of its inception until it was disbanded.

When was it disbanded?

Under Garry McCarthy.

Where did you go after it was disbanded?

I went to the Area Central Saturation Team and the Area South Saturation Team.

And where’s Area Central?

Um, 51st and Wentworth.

And you said you were on the Saturation Team. Explain what you did on the Saturation Team.

Essentially, the same duties as in Area Central — I’m sorry, Area 1. You’re sent out to one of the various districts within the area at the discretion of the deputy chief. Usually they were um, again, targeting gangs and gang activity.

And then you went to Area 2, is that right?

Yeah, Area South, which was formerly known as Area 2.

Where is that located?

727 E. 111th St.

And you had the same duties and responsibilities there?

Yes, only it was the far South Side of the city.

Ok. And where did you go after that?

After that I went to the — back to the 7th District.

How long were you in the 7th District?

A few months.

Where did you go after the 7th District?

After there I went to the 8th District at 3420 W. 63rd St.

Now, in all those years, from 2001, when did you go to the 8th District? I’m sorry.

January of 2014.

All right. So from 2001 to 2014 you worked in various jobs in the Chicago Police Department, is that correct?


All right. Did you ever have occasion to arrest or be involved with people who had guns?


And did you ever have occasion to be involved with people who had knives?


Did you ever have an occasion to draw your weapon?

Unfortunately, I’ve had to.

You — how many times would you say you’ve had to draw your weapon?

I don’t know.

Could it be more than 10?


More than 20?


At any time from 2001 until October 20, 2014, did you ever fire your weapon?

Prosecution: Objection, your honor.

Judge Gaughan: Overruled, I’ll allow you wide latitude on cross-examination

No, and I’m very proud of that.

Now, I want to direct your attention to October 20, 2014. Did you work the night before?

No, I did not.

Did you work on October 18?


So you had a couple days off before you start work on October 20, correct?

That’s correct.

And tell us what you did when you got up that morning.

Um, got up that morning with my kids. Made sure they were, um, changed, ready to go to school. Had breakfast and made sure they got to school.

Right. What did you do after they left for school?

Did some household chores.

And did you have a part-time job at the time?

I did.

Did you go to that part-time job that day?


What time did you go there?

Um, roughly noon to 4.

And where was that?

It was at the Walmart in Cicero, Illinois.

And you were just working security there, is that right?


So when you left there at 4 o’clock, where did you go?

Went back home, had some dinner.

And did you have — did you nap?

I took a nap right before work.

All right. What time did you go to the district?

Um, about 9 p.m.

And that’s when you had to start work that night, is that right?

That’s correct.

And where’s the first place you went when you got to the district?

Went to the locker room and changed.

Did you have occasion to go to roll call?

Yes, I did.

Who were you gonna work with that night?

Officer Joe Walsh.

And had you worked with Joe Walsh in the past?

One time prior.

So this is the second time you were gonna work with him?

Yes, it is.

You went to roll call, is that right?


And after roll call, where did you go?

I went to the 7-Eleven.

You got in your car, right?


Who was driving the car?

Officer Walsh.

And you left the district and went to the 7-Eleven first, is that right?


What time do you think you got to the 7-Eleven?

Probably around quarter to the hour.

All right. You hadn’t left the 7-Eleven, right?


Did you hear, you were wearing a radio on your person, is that correct?


Officer Walsh was wearing a radio on his person as well?


Did you receive any radio traffic as you were leaving the 7-Eleven or as you had just left the 7-Eleven?

I observed — well, I heard, 8-15-Robert calling in a call of distress.

And what did you and your Officer Walsh do when you heard that radio traffic?

Um, we responded. You know, we were a rapid response car, our duties were to go to any in-progress calls but also being called for, you know, officers asking for assistance.

Where was the 7-Eleven?

59th and Pulaski on the southwest corner.

All right. So you were going in response to someone’s call for help, is that right?


And you got in your car.


Officer Walsh was driving.

That’s correct.

Which direction did you go?


On what?


Did you have, do you know if your lights and sirens were going at that time?

I don’t remember.

Did you hear any radio traffic on your way to — strike that – were you headed north on Pulaski?

That’s correct.

And do you know that, were you going to 40th and Pulaski, or do you know?

Can you repeat that please?

Were you going to 40th and Pulaski, or did you know?

I don’t remember if, while we were heading into the car Joe told me, or while we were in the car. I didn’t hear exactly where their call of assignment was. I don’t remember.

And on the way up north and up west, you could hear radio traffic.


What did you hear?

I heard, um, 8-15-Robert saying that their tire had been slashed.

Do you know if you had turned on your lights and sirens at that point?

I know at that point they were definitely activated because I remember the — I remember the sirens.

And did you know at that point where you were headed?


Where were you headed?

We were headed to 40th and — Karlin?


Karlov? It was one of the “K” streets. I don’t, I can’t say which one.

All right. Just so the jury understands those streets are just west of Pulaski, is that right?


Did you have occasion to get to the intersection of 40th and Pulaski?

Yes, I did.

And what happened when you got to 40th, that intersection?

At 40th and Pulaski we made a left-hand turn, we would have been going westbound.

Did you have an occasion to see anyone on the street at that point?


Who did you see? Or what did you see?

To the right I saw a man next to a car. He was pointing a little bit further west and south from his location.

When you say pointing, he was, like this?

He was feverishly pointing.

Did you look in the direction he was pointing?

I did.

What, if anything, did you see when you looked in that direction?

I saw Officer [Joseph] McElligott pointing eastbound — um, well he was running eastbound, and while he was pointing, he had his gun in his hand.

And did you know Officer McElligott from the past?


So you knew Officer McElligott when you saw him?

I did.

And you say he had his gun out?

He did.

Did you see a squad car?


Where was the squad car in relation to Officer McElligott?

Almost immediately near him.

Did you notice anything unusual about the squad car?

While it was moving the right side, it was hopping, like it was, limping, I guess you could say?

You see, you say Officer McElligott was pointing at something, somewhere?


Which way was he pointing?

He was pointing directly in front of him. Um, further east, in front of him.

Did you look in that direction?

I did.

What, if anything, did you see looking in that direction?

I saw a male black in front of him, wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans, running. And in his right hand I saw a knife.

And can you describe the area where he was running, towards [you]?

He was entering into a parking lot.

And — the parking lot was — parking lot of what business?

Burger King.

Now what did Officer Wal — Officer Walsh is still driving the car, right?

That’s correct.

What did he do when — did you point out to Officer Walsh that you see this guy in the Burger King parking lot?

No. He pointed him out.

Did he then drive the — where did he drive the squad car?

We entered into the parking lot and drove on a southeast angle towards the entrance of the Burger King.

And what was the point of doing that?

To prevent the male black in a black hoodie and blue jeans with a knife from entering into the Burger King.

And were you able to prevent him from entering into the Burger King?

Yes, we were.

You see where he went after he left the Burger King?

He ran into Pulaski Avenue. He ran east – he ran further eastbound onto Pulaski Avenue.

And what did you and Officer Walsh do?

We looked for a safe, well not a safe opening, but an opening where we could hop the curve and cross unto Pulaski and further chase after him.

So you were able to cross the road on Pulaski?


Which direction did you start to go when you got onto Pulaski?

We started to go southbound on Pulaski in the northbound lanes and at that time he didn’t, the male black in a black hoodie in blue jeans, he didn’t have a knife in his hand while walking.

When you go on Pulaski and saw the male black again right?

That’s correct.

And you didn’t see a knife in his hand?

That’s correct.

What did you think at that point?

I said he doesn’t have the knife anymore.

Were you relieved?

Greatly relieved.

You continued to go southbound on Pulaski?


And did you notice anything on northbound on Pulaski to as you were driving that way?

Yeah, we saw another squad car approaching us.

As you approached that squad, did you do anything inside of your car?


What was that?

I started to open up my car door cause I felt we were going to be able to knock him to the ground with the car door.

When you say knock to the ground who are you talking about?

I’m talking about the male black with black hoodie and blue jeans.

And were you able to knock him to the ground with the car door?

No, the other car was coming at us way to quickly, and we had to get out of its way.

Did Officer Walsh say something in that moment?


What did he say?

He either told me to stay in the car or close my door. I don’t remember which one it was.

So then you had to drive around this squad car that’s coming north, is that right?

That’s correct.

Did you lose sight of the guy with black hoodie and blue jeans – strike that. You now know that the person with the hoodie was Laquan McDonald, is that right?

That’s correct.

So when you drove around in the squad car did you lose sight of Laquan McDonald then?

Yes, I did.

For how long did you lose sight of him?


Did you get back on the road, you never left Pulaski, right?

That’s correct.

So did you get around when the other car driving north?

Yeah, the other car kept on driving north and we – I think we kept on driving south for about five … maybe?

Right, so the other squad car would not stop Laquan McDonald, correct?


If you got around the squad car, you could then see Laquan McDonald?


All right. What were you trying to do at that point when you had gotten around out of the squad car?

We’re trying to keep him from continuing heading, um, eastbound on that southeast angle and entering into another business.

What was the other business?

The other was a, um, Dunkin’ Donuts.

You’re trying to block him from Dunkin’ Donuts as well, correct?


Did Officer Walsh – he meant to park the car?

He did. He parked it on a, um, southwest angle, traveling the lines.

Is that right in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts?

I believe so, yes.

If you were driving around the park before you parked, you would be back at Laquan McDonald.

Yes, I was looking at him over my right shoulder.

At any point, did you see him …

Prosecutor: Objection. Leading.

Judge Gaughan: At this time you’re past preliminaries. Stop leading. Sustained.

What if anything did you see Laquan McDonald do as you were driving around?

Kept on coming towards us.

Before you parked, did you see him do anything?

Well, no.

So Officer Walsh parked the car, what did you do?

Immediately got out of the car.

Did you see Laquan McDonald get out of the car?

Yes. While I was exiting the car.

Did you see anything in his hand?


What did you see?

I saw him extend out a knife, flicking it towards the side.

How far away was Laquan McDonald from you when he flicked out that knife?

Pfff, probably about 20 feet.

All right. Was that closer than you thought him to be?

Prosecutor: Objection.

Judge Gaughan: All right, really at this time stop leading.

Do you know where Officer Walsh was when you got out the car?

No, I don’t.

You don’t know if he was behind you or where he was, right?

No, I lost focus to him. I was focusing on Laquan McDonald.

Could you see anything else other than Laquan McDonald?

I saw another squad car approaching from the north at us, and I saw an empty field to my left.

What was Laquan McDonald doing?

Advancing on me.

And could you see him, his face?

Yeah, I could. I won’t forget it.

What, if anything, did you notice about his face?

His face had no expression. His eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had just these huge white eyes, just staring right through me.

And did you say anything to Laquan McDonald?

I was yelling at him “drop the knife.” I yelled it, I don’t know how many times, but that’s all I, all I yelled.

Did he keep advancing towards you?

He never stopped.

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke dabs his eyes as he testifies in his murder trial on Tuesday for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke dabs his eyes as he testifies in his murder trial on Tuesday for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

How close did he get to you?

He got about 10-15 feet away from me.

When he got 10-15 feet away from you, what did he do?

We never lost eye contact. Um, eyes were bugging out, his face was just expressionless and turned his torso towards me.

What did he do at the time?

He waved the knife from his lower side upwards, across his body towards my left shoulder.

When he did that, what did you do officer?

I shot him.

When you say you shot him, you know if you hit him or not?

Prosecutor: Objection.

Judge Gaughan: Not really, overruled.

I’m sorry?

You know if you accidentally hit him or not when you shot him.

I have no idea. I didn’t know at the time.

You know how you started to fire?


What happened when you started shooting?

I’m sorry?

What happened when you started shooting?

I’m sorry. Could you repeat that please?

You all right?


What happened when you started shooting? What happened to Laquan McDonald when you started shooting?

Eventually, he fell to the ground.

Did he ever drop that knife?


And after you realized he fell to the ground did you stop shooting?

Once I recognized he was on the ground, I stopped shooting.

And what did you do when you stopped shooting?

I stopped shooting, put my gun down –

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke testifies in his murder trial Tuesday Oct. 2, 2018, in Chicago, for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. | Antonio Perez/Pool via Chicago Tribune

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke testifies in his murder trial Tuesday Oct. 2, 2018, in Chicago, for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. | Antonio Perez/Pool via Chicago Tribune

Antonio Perez/Pool via Chicago Tribune

Can you stand up and show the jury what you did please?

Initially, I was like this [stands with arms out straight, fingers interlaced]. Put my gun down til like a 45-degree position. Then I started to approach while yelling at him “drop that knife.”

He still hadn’t dropped the knife is that right?

No, he did not.

When he was on the ground, what if anything did you observe about him while he was on the ground?

All I could see [pause]. I could see him starting to push up, with his left hand, off the ground. I see his left shoulder start to come up. I still see him holding that knife with his right hand, not letting go of it. And his eyes are still bugged out. His face has got no expression on it.

During that time on the ground did you say anything to him?

I’m yelling at him, “drop that knife.”

How many times did you say it?

I couldn’t tell you.

And he never dropped it, right?

He never dropped it.

So when you saw him move like that what did you do?

I just kept on looking at the knife, and I shot at it. I just wanted him to get rid of that knife.

Did you also want him to stay on the ground?

Prosecutor: Objection Judge, leading.

Judge Gaughan: Stop it.

You say you shot at the knife, right? Why else did you shot at on the ground?

I wanted him to stay on the ground because it was gonna be an easier position for us to take him into custody.

Explain your gun to us. People talk about a slidelock, what does a slidelock mean?

Slidelock means the gun goal is locked backwards. The gun, meaning the actual slide that cycles the cartridges up from the magazine. When there’s no bullets left in the magazine it automatically locks back. You can say, violently locks back to let you know that it’s out of ammunition.

Do you know how many shots you shot until that slidelock.


So when the slidelock locked what did that indicate to you?

That the gun was empty.

What did you do when the slidelock locked?

I, ah, injected the magazine from the gun. I reloaded the weapon as I was trained.

Train to reload the weapon?


Did Officer Walsh say anything about that?

He said “Jason, I got this.”

Was Officer Walsh armed?


Did he have his gun out?

He had his gun out on Laquan McDonald on his approach.

So Officer Walsh came to take the knife away from Laquan McDonald?

Yeah, he kicked that knife probably as hard as he could. It only went a couple of feet.

And after that, what did you do?

I screamed into the radio “We need an ambulance.”

That second volley, if you will, of shots. How many shots you think you shot that second time?

I think I fired two or three shots.

Thank you for your time.

[Cross-examination by Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason]

So as you sit here today it’s your testimony that you shot at Laquan because he brought his knife up to about his waist level? Is that your testimony?


What is your testimony? Why’d you shoot him?

With his actions with the knife or his actions in total?

His actions with the knife.

Well, his actions with the knife were also his actions in advancing on me. He brought the knife down from his waist level up toward his left shoulder like this [bring hand diagonally across chest].

And you were interviewed that night by Det. March, isn’t that correct?


And that night when you were interviewed by Det. [David] March you told him, isn’t it correct, that McDonald raised the knife across his chest and over his shoulder, pointing the knife at you, correct?

I’m sorry?

Did you tell that to Officer March when you were interviewed that night?

I’m sorry, could you repeat the question please?

You told Officer March when you were interviewed that night that Laquan McDonald raised the knife, over his shoulder and pointed the knife at you, correct?

No, I don’t remember exactly what I said immediately after the shooting. I do remember talking to Det. March. I remember telling him what I just demonstrated to you.

So you never told him that Laquan McDonald brought the knife over his shoulder and pointed it at you? Is that what you’re saying?

Again, I don’t remember exactly what I said immediately after the shooting. I was in shock.

And you told that to Dr. Miller when Dr. Miller interviewed you, didn’t you?

What did I tell him?

You told him that he brought the knife up over and across his chest and was pointing it at you?

I told him he brought it up across his chest like this, yes [brings right hand up toward his left shoulder].

Now you’ve sat here for several days. Where do you see that on the video?

[Looks toward screen displaying black “x”] I don’t see a video.

You sat here for several days and watched several videos, haven’t you?


Have you ever seen Laquan McDonald do that on one of those videos?

The video doesn’t show my perspective.

The video doesn’t. How about the animation? Let’s play that, the animation. I’m gonna show, your honor, what’s been previously entered as defense exhibit No. 10.

[Animation plays]

Then let’s get to your perspective. There’s your perspective, right? Is that it? Do you want me to play it again?

No, it’s not my perspective because it’s showing the back of my head and not from my eye level. It’s not showing what I saw. It’s showing the back of my head and above me, so it’s not my perspective, miss.

OK, so let me ask you this. It says “officer view” on that, and that’s what your expert presented as your view. Is that correct?

I’m sorry, miss?

That’s what your expert presented as your view?

That’s beyond my [trails off]

Were you sitting here in the last couple of days when your expert testified?

I was here, yes.

And he testified that this was from your viewpoint, correct?

I don’t know.

And do you see in that video, at all, Laquan McDonald raising the knife?

No, I don’t.

And, in this particular video, it stops right there, right? When he falls to the ground. Right?

I don’t see the video anymore, it disappeared, miss.

When you watched the video in court, your animation, it stops once Laquan falls to the ground, correct?

I’m going to take your word for it.

You didn’t watch it?

Judge Gaughan: All right, play it again then.

Let’s play it. Again, this is defense exhibit number 10.

[Animation plays again]

And it stops right there, correct?

It’s still going.

Well, this is just playing it over and over because it doesn’t stop unless you stop it.

On your animation, did you ever see anything that happened after Laquan McDonald fell to the ground?

Defense: Objection. [Off mike]

Judge Gaughan: If that’s your objection, overruled.

I didn’t see the video stop, so I don’t know where it’s supposed to stop.

Okay, in your testimony, as you said here today is that you stopped shooting, you made a decision to stop shooting?

I’m sorry. I don’t understand you, miss. Could you repeat that or rephrase it?

You made a decision to stop shooting that night?

Yes, I did.

And when was that?

Once I recognized that he hit the ground.

Well, he hit the ground and you continued to shoot, correct?

On my approach, yes.

And so you’re walking closer to him as you shoot him?

I don’t understand you.

Well, you just said “on my approach.” So as you’re approaching him while he’s on the ground, you’re continuing to shoot him?

No, I think. You’re putting words into my mouth. [Cross-talk] I’m trying to answer your question, miss, so please let me answer it. After I re-assessed the situation I did fire after that, yes I did.

Re-assessed, what was it that you re-assessed?

After I lowered my weapon.

When did that happen in the scheme of what happened that night? When did you lower your weapon?

After I recognized that he fell to the ground, lowered my weapon. After re-assessing the situation, that would’ve been it.

And the shooting after that?

I shot at that knife. I wanted him to get rid of that knife.

Okay, let’s talk about the knife. You’re not trained as a police officer to shoot as somebody’s knife, are you?

No, you’re not.

You’re trained to shoot at center mass, correct?


So why did you continue to shoot at his knife? That’s not what you’re trained to do.

My focus was just on that knife, and I just wanted him to get rid of that knife. That’s all I could think.

I’m going to play what’s been marked as people’s number 8, which is the video. Do you see that on the screen?

Yes, ma’am.

Where in that video does it show Laquan McDonald trying to get up?

I can’t tell you. It’s not in front of me.

Well, you just saw the video. Is there any point in that video where Laquan McDonald was trying to get up?

In that video, it may not show it. But there wasn’t from my perspective. I was coming at it at a completely different angle.

And you told Det. March that night that you continued to shoot at him when he was on the ground because he was pointing the knife at you. Is that correct?

I’m sorry I don’t remember exactly what I said immediately after the shooting to the detective. I was still in shock. I know I gave him a summary of what happened that night.

So you don’t recall that you told him that you continued to fire your weapon at McDonald, who was on the ground as McDonald was attempting to get up all the while continuing to point the knife at you.

I’m sorry. I said this to the detective?


I’m sorry. I don’t remember exactly what I said to the detective immediately after the shooting. I was in shock.

How about what you said to Det. Walsh on the way there? “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot the guy.” When’d you say that?

I didn’t talk to a detective Walsh.

A Det. Walsh.

Officer Walsh, ma’am.

Officer Walsh?


Okay. Why’d you say to him, “Oh my God, we’re gonna have to shoot the guy?”

I thought the officers were under attack [cross-talk]. Ma’am, I’m still trying to answer. I thought he was under attack. The whole thing was just shocking to me.

Shocking. You responded to several call over the years for people with knives?

I encountered a few, yes.

And the only that you knew at that point was that they had called in “popped a tire” and somebody had a knife, correct?

I heard over the radio that he had slashed a tire, yes.

Over the radio never says slashed a tire, does it?

I now know that, yes. I misinterpreted it at the time.

Okay, so. What you heard was pop the tire, right?

At the time I thought I heard slashed.

When you see McElligott and [Officer Thomas] Gaffney in the Burger King parking lot, you know they’re not under attack, correct?

I didn’t see them in the parking lot.

You didn’t see them at the parking lot at Burger King?

I saw them before they entered the parking lot.

Okay, so you never see McElligott chasing Laquan across the parking lot at Burger King?

I think I see McElligott chasing him on the sidewalk.

What sidewalk?

The one that he was on.

But where, before the Burger King or after the Burger King?

What do you mean, before or after? Before the entrance of the Burger King? Or at the Burger King? Or on Pulaski?

Let me ask a different question. Maybe you’ll understand this one? You pull up at the Burger King, correct?

Yes, ma’am.

And you’re going to the Burger King parking, and you see McElligot chasing Laquan?

No, we saw him before going into the lot.

So you mean you saw him across the Burger King parking lot?

Yeah, he was about good 10 strides in front of McElligott. He was outstretched pretty good.

Okay, so you saw McElligot chasing him, correct?

Yeah, he was behind him.

So he wasn’t under attack, was he?

At that point, no.

And Gaffney was actually in his vehicle, correct?

All I saw was a squad car, I didn’t know who was in the car.

Okay, so before that night you didn’t know McElligott and Gaffney were partners in that squad?

I knew them, yes.

So what you hear on the radio, you know it’s them calling it in, correct?

I don’t know. I don’t know who’s calling it in.

You don’t know the voice calling it in?

Well, yeah. I heard the radio, yes.

And so, you didn’t recognize the voice?

The radio, it’s – it can be very hard to pick up on whose voice is whose. So no, I couldn’t tell you who was calling in the transmission.

Okay, so did you think there was some other officer in that squad car besides Gaffney?

Are you saying I’m just imagining another officer driving the car?

Let me ask. You said you did not know what was happening in the squad car?

I couldn’t. At that time I didn’t even know it that was Gaffney and McElligott’s squad car.

But it was blinking, you said.

Right, it was a police car, yes.

And then, Laquan is actually running in front of you and Walsh, correct?


In the Burger King lot?

For a little bit of time, yes.

And he actually runs in front of you and crosses to Pulaski, yes?

Yeah. He crossed to Pulaski, yes.

And then it’s your testimony as you sit here today that you opened that car door because you wanted to knock him out of the way?

No, that’s not my testimony.

Wasn’t that what you said on direct, that you wanted to open the car door to knock him down?

Yeah, you just rephrased it.

Your testimony as you sit here today that you were going to open that door to knock him down, is that correct?

That is correct.

And again, when we talked to Det. March that night after the shooting, isn’t it correct that you told Det. March that you opened the right front door of the vehicle to exit and confront McDonald, but Walsh told you to stay in the vehicle as they were too close.

I don’t remember exactly what I told him. I was under a lot of stress right immediately after the shooting.

You ever tell that to Dr. Miller, that you intended to open the door and knock him down?

My conversation with Dr. Miller, I don’t remember. It was a couple years ago.

And at this point, then, Walsh is the one who pulls up around the other squad, correct?

Yes, he was driving that night.

And you, when the vehicle stops, you jump out, correct?

I opened up the car door, and I got out of the car, yes.

And at that point you watched Laquan McDonald for six seconds before you fired the first shot, correct?

At the time of the incident I don’t know how long it was.

But you know now as you sit here you’ve watched the video over and over, it was six seconds?

I’ll take your word for it, I didn’t count it, it was too difficult.

And was that the time you saw his “bugged-out eyes?”

Yeah, I saw his eyes.

Was that the first time?

I can’t answer that for certainty.

What else would you have seen his face?

When he got closer to me.

Well, that’s during that six seconds, correct?


And during those seconds, not only is he getting closer to you, but you’re getting closer to him, correct?

I now know that, yeah, I took a couple of steps towards him.

You took more than a couple steps. You went all the way out past squad car, correct?

I’m not sure.

Do you recall telling Det. March that night that when you got out of the car, you backpedalled? Do you recall telling him that?

I don’t remember exactly what I said.

So you never did back up, did you?

I’m trying to answer two questions, ma’am, what question do you want me to answer? I’m trying to answer them one at a time.

Do you recall telling Det. March, that as Laquan McDonald came toward you, you backpedalled?

Yeah, I thought at the time that I had moved backward. But after seeing the video countless times I know I didn’t backpedal.

And you also told Dr. [Laurence] Miller, didn’t you, that you backpedalled?

I’m sorry, I don’t remember the discussion of two years ago, with my conversation with Dr. Miller.

Well, your conversation with Dr. Miller was to tell Dr. Miller what you saw that night, correct?


So that he could make some kind of assessment or give an opinion here in court, correct?

At the time of my conversation with Dr. Miller, I didn’t know what the purpose was, I didn’t know if it was for an expert witness or to get me some help.

So when you got out of the car, not only is Laquan approaching toward the fence, you are also approaching him, correct?

He wasn’t approaching toward the fence, ma’am.

He wasn’t going toward the fence?


Have you seen the video we played today in court?

I have.

I’m going to play part of People’s No. 8. Can you see that?

Yes ma’am.

[Dashcam video plays, stopping at 27 seconds] Is that where you say that you opened the door?


[Video continues to 28 seconds] Right there?

On the screen, that’s where I opened my door.

And it’s your testimony today that you opened the door because you thought you’d knock him down?


[Video continues to play to 41 seconds] So it’s your testimony today that he’s not walking toward a fence?

I’m sorry?

It’s your testimony that he’s not walking toward a fence?

It looks to me like he’s going from one side of the guided line to the other side of the guided line.

And it’s right there at that point that you say that he raised his arm up around his chest?

At this exact point?


No, I don’t know.

Now, you had you radio on that night, right?

Yes ma’am.

You knew a taser car had been called, correct?


And you knew that somebody had responded that they were coming, correct?

I just heard that a car had responded, they were coming from a distance, but I never heard once over the radio that a taser unit was responding.

Well, I believe that the dispatch was saying, while they’re on the radio, that they’re near Mulligan and Archer, correct?

I don’t remember the exact cross streets, no.

And then the dispatcher comes on and says, “anybody closer with a taser,” right?

I don’t remember.

And so when you got out of the car that night, you could have said, “anybody closer with a taser,” right?

Hypothetically, you could.

This wasn’t a hypothetical question. You could have called, “where is the car with the taser,” right?

Defense attorney: Objection

Judge Gaughan: I’m sorry, what’s your objection?

Defense attorney: It’s a hypothetical question. “Could have called.” It’s a hypothetical.

Judge Gaughan: Overruled.

Hypothetically, anybody on scene could have called.

No, the question is you. You could have called, correct?

It was a very chaotic moment.

The answer is a yes or no.

It doesn’t just stipulate a yes or no answer. It’s a very complicated answer. There’s a lot going on at that moment.

You didn’t even have to get out of that car at that point, did you?

You could say I also didn’t have to go to work that night.

No, that wasn’t the question. The question was: “You didn’t even have to get out of the car, correct?”

As an officer, you have a duty to place somebody into custody.

Well, you also have a duty to make sure that you protect yourself, right?


And you never did anything to put any kind of barrier between yourself and Laquan McDonald, did you?

It was a tactically unsound spot. There was no time to look for any barrier. If I backed up, I would’ve backed up against a wall.

What wall?

It would have been like the squad car, you would’ve pinned yourself up against a wall, I’m just using it as a phrase.

You backed up to the end of your squad car, right?

I know that now, correct.

You could’ve gone back around your squad car, so your car was between you and Laquan, correct?

There was no time for that.

But you had six second before you pulled the trigger the first time, correct?

In that six seconds he got a lot closer to me than I ever could’ve gotten away from him around the squad car.

And you got a lot closer to him too, didn’t you?

I know that now, yeah. Not intentionally.


Not intentionally.

Not intentionally?

[crosstalk] I thought I was backpedalling that night.

You thought you were backpedalling, as you fired shot after shot after shot?

What I know now and what I thought at that time are two different things.

You didn’t know anything at all about Laquan McDonald that night, did you?

Just from action I observed of him and his actions that I heard before seeing him.

That’s all, right?

Yeah, I don’t think I ever met him before.

Now you stopped shooting because your gun was empty, correct?


And it wasn’t because you thought the threat was over with, right?

I’m sorry?

It wasn’t because you thought the threat was over with, right?

Between the time I stopped shooting and the time I reloaded the situation had drastically changed.

Really? What changed?

There was no longer a threat by the time I reloaded my weapon and brought it up to the ready position.

Why wasn’t he?

In those couple of seconds, he had stopped moving.

And it’s actually your partner who said, “I got this,” who led you to stop the shooting?

Absolutely not.

Absolutely not? Your partner didn’t tell you, “Hey Jason, I got this?”

You asked me a compound question, I was answering the second part of the question. Yes, he did say, “Jason, I got this.”

[Redirect by defense attorney Rueckert]

Officer Van Dyke, you were out there to serve and protect, correct?


And when you got out of your squad car, Laquan McDonald was walking toward you, right?


Prosecution: Objection. Leading, judge.

Judge Gaughan: If that’s your objection on redirect, overruled. Go ahead and proceed.

[Walking toward Van Dyke] If I’m walking toward you, and I cross over this plug [points at floor] am I still walking toward you?

Yes, you are.

[Walking away from Van Dyke] Did he ever turn and walk toward this fence [pointing to his right]?

His back never once turned toward me.

And he could have walked to that fence, if he wanted to?

He could have made a decisive turn and walked in the opposite direction, ending it all. He could have thrown the knife away and ended it all, right then and there.

And how many times did you tell him to throw that knife away?


He never dropped that knife, did he?


Did he turn toward you, with that knife, right?


And you saw McElligott chasing him with a gun, right?


And he had that knife out then, right?

That’s correct.

When he turned toward you, you said he raised that knife, correct?


And show us how he raised it, please?

His lower right side, moving across his chest, toward his left shoulder [moves right hand across body diagonally].

And he’s facing you at that point, correct?

Yes, his upper body’s facing me, and he’s doing that [moves right hand across body diagonally].

And that’s when you shot him?


Did you think you were going to get attacked at that point?

Prosecution: Objection

Judge Gaughan: I’ll allow that question to be asked. You can answer.


[Re-cross examination by prosecutor Gleason]

Did you testify that he never turned his back to you that night?

No, he did not turn his back toward me.

So it was impossible that you shot him in the back?

From what I saw in the video, he spun.

Well, when he’s spinning, his back is obviously toward you, correct?

For a short period of time, maybe, [snaps] like that.

And you could’ve ended it all the minute he hit the ground, correct?

Between the time of me realizing he hit the ground, re-assessing it. After my assessment, you know. That’s why I re-assessed the situation, yes.

But you testified that even when you re-assessed the situation you continued to shoot him?

Because to me it seemed like he was getting back up, that he was in the fight.

[cross talk] No further questions


Here are the critical legal questions looming now for officer Jason Van Dyke

How they got to guilty — Van Dyke jurors explain their decision to convict

How Jason Van Dyke guilty verdict may affect races for Chicago mayor, aldermen

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