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First African-American Chosen For Jury In Chicago Officer's Murder Trial

A woman who drives for FedEx was the first African-American chosen to sit on the jury in the murder trial of a white Chicago police officer charged in the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

The woman was one of five people selected Wednesday to sit on the jury in the trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke and brings the number of jurors selected to nine.

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jason van dyke sept 6

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke listens during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Sept. 6, 2018.

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via Pool/AP, file

Attorneys sparred over race Wednesday during the second day of face-to-face jury selection in the murder trial of a white Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald.

Judge Vincent Gaughan is looking for 12 jurors and four alternates who can decide Jason Van Dyke’s fate based only on trial evidence — and not media coverage. Van Dyke, 40, faces first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct charges in the Oct. 20, 2014 shooting. Five jurors were selected on Monday. There was no jury selection on Tuesday./p>

The first African-American juror was selected Wednesday, but only after attorneys argued whether race was a factor.

Defense attorneys had asked to keep the woman off the jury because of her reply to a questionnaire in which she said the shooting was “horrific.” She had also hesitated when asked if she would be comfortable acquitting Van Dyke.But prosecutor Marilyn Hite-Ross argued that Van Dyke’s attorneys illegally wanted to remove the woman for no reason other than her race.

Gaughan sided with prosecutors, and added the woman to the jury in the high-profile case.

Here’s a look at the jurors selected to sit on the trial Wednesday:

Race continued to play a role as jury selection continued. By the end of day, each side had used five of their seven “peremptory strikes.” All the strikes from the defense have excluded people of color, while all the strikes from prosecutors have excluded whites.

Van Dyke’s legal team has until the 12th juror is sworn in to decide whether to stick with a jury trial or instead have Gaughan decide the officer’s fate.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow the trial with the 16 Shots podcast.

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