Police officer's trial in 2014 shooting stays in Chicago

Jurors heard opening arguments Monday from lawyers in controversial case in which white officer shot black teen 16 times

Jurors heard opening arguments Monday from lawyers in controversial case in which white officer shot black teen 16 times

The white police officer who shot to death a black teen in 2014 fired 16 shots without justification, prosecutors told a Chicago jury on Monday, as the trial began in a decisive case for race relations and policing in the United States' third-largest city.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan has the task of presiding over Van Dyke's murder trial, one of the city's biggest trials in decades.

Last week, Van Dyke's legal team made a decision to move forward with a jury trial.

During opening statements at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, 2650 S. California Ave., special prosecutor Joe McMahon said, "We're here today because the defendant shot Laquan McDonald 16 times when it was completely unnecessary". Some other officers have been charged with lying in what prosecutors say was an effort to protect Van Dyke. The defense says Van Dyke was afraid for his life. Video of the shooting, which was released via court order in November 2015, sparked massive protests and prompted federal and local investigations.

Three Chicago Police Department officers were indicted in June 2017 for conspiring to cover up McDonald's shooting.

November 16: A special prosecutor says a grand jury has been impaneled to hear evidence into a possible cover-up by Chicago police officers in the McDonald shooting.

Jason Van Dyke's lawyer, Daniel Herbert, motions with the 3-inch blade Laquan McDonald carried the night he was fatally shot, during opening statements in the trial of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on September 17, 2018, in Chicago.

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A series of witnesses took the stand before the court broke for lunch in the afternoon, with police witnesses defending Van Dyke and witnesses for the prosecution insisting that LaQuan McDonald didn't pose enough of a threat to warrant being shot, let alone 16 times.

Defence attorney Daniel Herbert told jurors that Van Dyke was "a scared police officer who was fearful for his life and the life of others and acted as he was trained to do". It also recommends abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates officer misconduct.

Herbert said the officer followed the law and his training.

Emanuel announced this month that he wouldn't seek a third term in office. The new indictment raises the number of felony counts against Van Dyke to 23.

"How can you have a jury in the city of Chicago and only one be black?" protester Frank Chapman said Sunday. They said the jury does not adequately represent the makeup of Cook County's African American population.

Police officers in Chicago and elsewhere charged with serious offenses often choose to have a bench trial - meaning the judge hears the case and decides their innocence or guilt.

Cook County, which includes the 5.2 million residents living in Chicago and its inner-ring suburbs, is 42.3 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic, 24 percent black and 7.7 percent Asian. IL state's attorney Joseph McMahon was brought in to serve as the special prosecutor.

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