Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke sits before an Aug. 20 hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. | Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune pool photo

Jury selection in Jason Van Dyke trial to start — then slow — next week

SHARE Jury selection in Jason Van Dyke trial to start — then slow — next week
SHARE Jury selection in Jason Van Dyke trial to start — then slow — next week

There won’t be much courtroom action off the bat when the trial of Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke begins next week.

Jury selection is set to start Wednesday, with an extra-large pool of potential jurors summoned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building because of the notoriety of the case.

Defense lawyers, seeking to have the case moved out of Cook County entirely, said their polling in the county showed 86 percent of residents have seen video of Van Dyke firing 16 shots at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald — and more than half think it would difficult for them to find the officer not guilty.

Weeding out jurors who can’t give Van Dyke a fair trial will start with jurors completing a questionnaire on Wednesday. Lawyers will review their answers, and prospective jurors won’t return to the courthouse until the following Monday, Sept. 10 when they will be questioned individually by Judge Vincent Gaughan, in the presence of lawyers for Van Dyke and the prosecution team led by Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon.

The questionnaires and the questioning by the judge are fairly rare steps at the criminal court house at 26th and California, though it follows a format Gaughan used in other high-profile cases he’s handled.

Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in November 2015, on the same day city officials released video of the shooting that had been kept under wraps even after the Independent Police Review Authority had cleared Van Dyke of wrongdoing and the city made a $5 million dollar payout to McDonald’s mother.

The trial is expected to last several weeks, with protesters vowing to fill an area near the courthouse entrance each day of the trial.

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