5 key excerpts from Van Dyke’s trial testimony
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Below are five key excerpts from the trial testimony Tuesday afternoon from Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who hit the stand to explain for the first time why he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.
Defense Attorney Randy Rueckert: What was Laquan McDonald doing?
Jason Van Dyke: Advancing on me.
Rueckert: And could you see him, his face?
Van Dyke: Yeah, I could. I won’t forget it.
Rueckert: What, if anything, did you notice about his face?
Van Dyke: 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.
Rueckert: And did you say anything to Laquan McDonald?
Van Dyke: 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.
Rueckert: When he was on the ground, what if anything did you observe about him while he was on the ground?
Van Dyke: All I could see … 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 — 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.
Rueckert: During that time on the ground did you say anything to him?
Van Dyke: I’m yelling at him, “drop that knife.”
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jody Gleason: And then you continued to shoot him after that?
Van Dyke: I shot at that knife. I wanted him to get rid of that knife.
Gleason: Ok. Let’s talk about the knife. You’re not trained as a police officer to shoot at somebody’s knife, are you?
Van Dyke: No, you’re not.
Gleason: You’re trained to shoot at center mass, correct?
Van Dyke: Yes.
Gleason: So why did you continue to shoot at his knife? That’s not what you’re trained to do.
Van Dyke: My focus was just on that knife, and I just wanted him to get rid of that knife. That’s all I could think.
Gleason: Why’d you say to (his partner, Joe Walsh), “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot the guy?”
Van Dyke: I thought the officers were under attack.
Gleason: OK, at the point that you —
Van Dyke: Ma’am, I’m still trying to answer. I thought he was under attack and the whole thing was just … shocking to me.
Gleason: Now, you stopped shooting because your gun was empty, correct?
Van Dyke: Yes.
Gleason: And it wasn’t because you thought the threat was over with, right?
Van Dyke: (After a long pause) I’m sorry?
Gleason: It wasn’t because you thought the threat was over with, right?
Van Dyke: Between the time I stopped shooting and the time I reloaded, the situation had drastically changed.
Gleason: Really? What changed?
Van Dyke: There was no longer a threat by the time I reloaded my weapon and brought it up to the ready position.
Gleason: Why wasn’t he?
Van Dyke: In those couple of seconds he, um, he had stopped moving.