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Episode 16: From Van Dyke's Perspective

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Jurors in the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke saw an animated video Tuesday that recreated the controversial 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The video, made for Van Dyke’s defense team, showed how the shooting hypothetically looked from the officer’s perspective.

This episode is part of 16 Shots, a podcast first released in 2018 about the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, the trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke, and the troubled relationship between African-Americans and the Chicago Police Department. To hear all the episodes, subscribe on Pocket Casts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Oct. 20, 2014, shooting gained national attention in November 2015 when a judge ordered the city to release a police dashcam video of the white cop shooting the black teen. Van Dyke’s lawyers have insisted that the video does not give an accurate representation of what the officer saw prior to the shooting.

California-based 3-D Forensic was hired by Van Dyke’s lawyers to create the animated video that offered different views of the shooting.

3-D Forensic’s CEO Jason Fries testified that his company’s analysis determined “Mr. McDonald was getting closer to Officer Van Dyke."

Prosecutors stressed that the animation — unlike the police dashcam video — is not real. They also attacked what the animation did not show, such as all 16 shots, McDonald’s blood, or the arrival of a police vehicle with a Taser.

Fries insisted the computer model was an accurate representation of the shooting.

Van Dyke’s lawyers are expected to call more witnesses when court resumes on Wednesday, but it remains unclear if Van Dyke will take the stand. Van Dyke, 40, faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct.

Here’s a look at other developments inside the courtroom Tuesday:

  • Dina Randazzo, McDonald’s probation officer in the Cook County Juvenile Court system, testified that the teen once became combative with sheriff’s deputies in court and was taken into custody.

  • Judge Vincent Gaughan twice ruled that Van Dyke’s lawyers could not present a CTA card registered to a disabled veteran as evidence. Van Dyke’s lawyers claimed McDonald used the card to get around the city prior to the shooting. Prosecutors said there was no evidence that McDonald was the one who used the card.

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