A Cook County judge on Thursday ruled that statements that Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke made after he fatally shot Laquan McDonald cannot be used at his murder trial.
During a brief hearing, Judge Vincent Gaughan sealed an audio recording and a transcript of an interview Van Dyke gave to the Independent Police Review Authority after he shot 17-year-old McDonald in 2014.
Gaughan’s ruling means that the material cannot be released publicly or used by prosecutors against Van Dyke because he was required to talk to IPRA officials. A legal rule prohibits statements officers are required to give from being used against them if they are charged with a crime.
Gaughan also ordered sealed statements that former Deputy Chief David McNaughton made to the city’s inspector general’s office. That material also cannot be used a trial or released to the public.
Police dashcam video shows that Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times as the teen was walking away from officers with a small knife by his side. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, and three other officers have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to cover up what happened.
Special prosecutors were not even allowed to attend the portion of Thursday’s hearing in which Van Dyke’s statements and McNaughton’s statements were discussed. Instead, Gaughan made his ruling to attorneys whose job it is to examine what evidence the special prosecutors can have at their disposal.
Gaughan previously ruled that statements Van Dyke made to a detective can be used by prosecutors, as can statements he made to police union representatives. But the judge has ruled that prosecutors cannot use statements he made to McNaughton, who determined that Van Dyke acted properly and who retired last year after the inspector general’s office recommended he be fired.