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Van Dyke Trial Day 13: McDonald was getting closer to Van Dyke — defense video

An animated video portraying Officer Jason Van Dyke and Laquan McDonald is shown Tuesday to the jury during the trial for the shooting death of McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. | Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune pool photo

2:45 p.m. Illinois FOP president praises defense re-creation video

The president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police offered high praise for the defense re-creation video of the shooting, saying “the defense did an excellent job today in proving that Laquan McDonald was not walking away from Officer Jason Van Dyke.”

“When I saw the video, in my opinion, you have Laquan McDonald closing the distance between himself and Officer Jason Van Dyke,” said FOP President Chris Southwood at a news conference after trial had wrapped up for the day.

When McDonald appears to extend a knife blade out, “that tells me without a shadow of a doubt, Laquan McDonald’s intentions were to go on the offensive,” Southwood said.

“Deadly force in that situation was absolutely justified, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind.”

Video by Ashlee Rezin | Chris Southwood, president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, speaks to reporters at the Leighto

1:21 p.m. Testimony ends for the day

1:13 p.m. Prosecutor continues to dissect shooting animation

Cross examination of a forensic animator continued Tuesday afternoon as a prosecutor drilled down into the details of an animation of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald — and the ways it may conflict with actual footage.

Assistant Special Prosecutor Marilyn Hite Ross noted that the video depicts McDonald with a hood on his head and in dark clothing. Forensic animator Jason Fries stood by those depictions. Hite Ross also asked whether the video depicts Jason Van Dyke wearing a bullet-proof vest. Fries said he wasn’t sure but said it didn’t matter.

He called the vest “so meaningless to me I wouldn’t spend any time trying to figure that out.”

Hite Ross even questioned Fries about a moment in the animation when McDonald’s feet appear to “slide” along the ground as he fell.

When asked about the gunshot wounds depicted in the animation, Fries said he consulted the medical examiner’s autopsy report. But he also said he ultimately deferred to the conclusions of pathologist Shaku Teas, who testified Monday for the defense.

12:39 p.m. ‘Just as real as a photograph’ or simply ‘a drawing’?

A prosecutor began Tuesday afternoon to pick apart the three-dimensional animation of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting.

Assistant Special Prosecutor Marilyn Hite Ross first zeroed in on the cost of the video. Though forensic animator Jason Fries said he didn’t know how much he billed the defense team, he suggested his company likely billed in the five-digit range.

The prosecutor also noted that Fries and his company, 3D-Forensic, only used information provided to it by Jason Van Dyke’s lawyers.

Later, Fries and Hite Ross quibbled over the words they used to describe the video.

“It’s just as real as a photograph,” Fries said.

Hite Ross replied, “but it’s not a photograph” before she began to refer to the video as “a drawing.”

“An animation is a drawing, isn’t it, sir?” Hite Ross asked.

Fries said he’d never used that word for such a video and added, “I respectfully disagree with you.”

12:07 p.m. Defense plays animated video of Laquan McDonald shooting that purports to show McDonald getting closer to Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke

Jurors have seen a three-dimensional animated re-creation of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014, that purports to show McDonald getting closer to Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the seconds before he was shot

In the video — which includes police dispatcher audio as well as a brief glimpse of dashcam video — McDonald appeared to have his arms down before the shooting began.

An animated video portraying Officer Jason Van Dyke and Laquan McDonald is shown Tuesday.

The video indicates that McDonald went from being 39 feet away from Van Dyke to 15 feet in about four seconds.

The video began with an overhead view of the area around 40th Street near Kildare. Jurors heard the 911 call reporting a radio theft in a truck yard.

The view from the video remains overhead as a red line — representing the path of McDonald — continues east on 40th. It begins to zoom closer to the ground as more dispatch recordings are heard, including the report that McDonald had popped a tire in a police vehicle.

The red line eventually moves into the parking lot of the Burger King at Pulaski. Blue lines represent the paths of police.

Finally, the video zooms down to a ground view, and actual dashcam video of the shooting can briefly be seen as a reference point before the video returns to three-dimensional animation.

McDonald’s shooting is then seen from the view of the dashcam, from overhead and the point of view of Jason Van Dyke. Dots on the video appear to represent bullets flying through the air.

In the animation, McDonald’s hands appear to be down when the shooting begins.

11:49 a.m. Jurors hear how video expert created his 3D animation of McDonald’s shooting

When testimony resumed Tuesday morning, forensic animation expert Jason Fries began to explain to jurors how his company created a three-dimensional animation of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting.

Fries explained that his company, 3D-Forensic, first measures an area with a laser scanner that is accurate to four or five millimeters. He said it collects “a million data points” every second.

Then, he said his company flies a drone over the area for a “belt-and-suspenders approach.” That drone makes sure the laser didn’t miss anything in its measurements.

Finally, he said, the company recreates the “world” in its computer. He compared it to making the 3-D worlds inside computer-animated movies like “Toy Story” or “Monsters, Inc.”

“It’s the same technology,” Fries said. “You’ve got to build the world first.”

Fries said his company also consulted the medical examiner’s report and the work of Dr. Shaku Teas, a pathologist who testified Monday for the defense. That helped the company understand the trajectory of the bullets.

11:02 a.m. Video expert takes the stand for defense: ‘Our job is to turn it into three-dimensional data’

An expert in forensic animation took the stand Tuesday morning as Jason Van Dyke’s defense team continued to call witnesses.

Jason Fries, the CEO of 3D-Forensic in California, is expected to testify about an animated video of Laquan McDonald’s Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death.

That video could be key in helping jurors understand Van Dyke’s point of view the night of the shooting. Fries’ online biography says “he has worked on many officer-involved shootings in the fields of, but not limited to, ballistic analysis, photogrammetry, photo analysis, video reconstruction, audio analysis on dash-cam data and reverse engineered locations/movements.”

Under questioning by defense attorney Dan Herbert, Fries explained that he is “very familiar” with laser-based analysis, which he said helps analyze two-dimensional video data.

“Our job is to turn it into three-dimensional data,” Fries said.

Judge Vincent Gaughan called a recess before Fries began substantive testimony.

10:32 a.m. Judge rejects potential witness for the defense

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan told defense attorneys for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke they could not call to the stand a Chicago police officer who once allegedly crossed paths with Laquan McDonald.

The encounter happened after a woman called for police, claiming McDonald tried to take her car. Police arrived and allegedly chased McDonald down, but defense attorney Randy Rueckert conceded the officer wouldn’t be able to identify McDonald. The woman didn’t want to press charges, so police made no arrest and didn’t even generate a “contact card.”

The ruling appears to remove one detail that the defense appeared to want to use in its argument that in the hours before the shooting McDonald was on a rampage.

10:20 a.m. More testimony about McDonald’s past

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s defense team continued to emphasize Laquan McDonald’s troubled past as testimony resumed Tuesday.

Dina Randazzo, McDonald’s probation officer, recalled an Aug. 23, 2013, incident in which McDonald was taken into custody after a court hearing.

“He became very upset,” Randazzo said. “And he became combative with sheriffs.”

Randazzo said the presiding judge became concerned, and Randazzo entered the lock-up area with the judge to check on McDonald.

“He just told the judge the sheriffs had punched him in the dick,” Randazzo said.

10:07 a.m. Quibbling over evidence before defense resumes

Lawyers quibbled over evidence Tuesday before the second day of testimony began in defense of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Following a long recess, Judge Vincent Gaughan agreed to admit as substantive evidence a PowerPoint presentation used Monday during testimony by Dr. Shaku Teas, a pathologist who testified for the defense. However, the judge told Van Dyke’s defense team they could not use a CTA card recovered from Laquan McDonald at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Gaughan said there was no evidence of who recovered the CTA card. And even if it was recovered from McDonald, the judge said that doesn’t mean McDonald used it.

9:40 a.m. Activist calls for peaceful shutdown of the city if Van Dyke is acquitted

Community activist William Calloway, who has been one of the key organizers of the protests outside the Jason Van Dyke murder trial, said Tuesday morning that he wants Chicago gangs to “put the guns down and join our fight for social justice.”

“I want to ask all the gangs throughout the city of Chicago: the GDs, the BDs, the Vice Lords, the Stones, the Latin Kings, I want everybody in the city of Chicago to put the guns down,” Calloway said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “All the gangs inside the city of Chicago, I am calling for a city-wide peace treaty.

“We want the gangs to put the guns down and join our fight for social justice.”

Calloway, noting he is a former gang member, added that he lost his brother to gun violence and has been to “100 funerals and vigils over the past several years.”

“It’s not just for if Jason Van Dyke is acquitted, it’s in general. If he’s convicted or acquitted, we want a peace treaty, city-wide.”

Calloway also renewed his call for a “city-wide shutdown” if Van Dyke is acquitted.

“This whole entire city should shut down,” he said. “As a black man, I already felt that I wasn’t safe in my community. If he is acquitted for shooting an unarmed teenager that was walking away 16 times, then, man, we are definitely not safe.”

Video by Ashlee Rezin | Community activist William Calloway speaks to reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse

7:16 a.m. More experts to hit the stand after an unusual finding by the defense’s pathologist

The defense for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke continues its case Tuesday morning after presenting its own pathologist on Monday to discuss Laquan McDonald’s cause of death and three juvenile jail guards who testified about run-ins they had with the teen.

Dr. Shaku Teas, who has worked at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, told jurors that only one of the 16 shots fired at McDonald mattered in terms of his death. Teas said that a shot to the 17-year-old’s chest that severed a key artery resulted in his death at the scene within one to five minutes.

Teas’ testimony underscored the defense argument that only the first few shots at McDonald mattered and that he died on the street, not at the hospital, as the prosecution contends. The prosecution’s expert testified last week that all 16 shots contributed to McDonald’s death. The prosecution has also introduced evidence that McDonald had a pulse and was breathing when paramedics arrived.

In an unusual claim, Teas also testified that McDonald was either upright or spinning to the ground when he was hit by all but one of the 16 bullets, a finding that appears to be clearly contradicted by the police dashcam video of the shooting.

In the coming days, the defense is expected to call a series of expert witness to try to bolster its case. Those will likely include a video expert, who will talk about how an animation was put together to show the jury the shooting from Van Dyke’s perspective; a ballistics expert who can talk about how fast Van Dyke fired, and a use of deadly force expert, who will contend that the shooting was justified.

Here’s the video recap of the testimony from Monday by Sun-Times reporters Andy Grimm and Jon Seidel:

Video by Ashlee Rezin