Episode 18: The Effects Of PCP

Episode 18: The Effects Of PCP

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A drug expert testified Thursday that Laquan McDonald had taken an illegal drug that can cause “violent rage behavior” shortly before he was fatally shot by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Dr. James Thomas O’Donnell, who reviewed McDonald’s autopsy and toxicology tests, said the teen had enough PCP in his system to cause feelings of “omnipotence” and “superhuman powers.”

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.

O’Donnell said people on PCP can have “severe rage, aggression, violent behavior, [and] drug-induced psychosis,” which could have been more exaggerated if McDonald hadn’t taken his prescription psychiatric drugs.

Prosecutors said Van Dyke would not have known McDonald had taken PCP when he shot the teen 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.

The 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, 40, faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct. His lawyers will continue to call witnesses on Monday.

Here are other developments from inside (and outside) the courtroom Thursday:

  • Judge Vincent Gaughan prevented Van Dyke’s lawyers from calling two witnesses — McDonald’s child-welfare case worker and a person to testify about McDonald’s positive drug tests.
  • Yvette Patterson testified that McDonald had asked to use her car about 18 hours before the shooting. Patterson said she had never met McDonald and called police. She added that she was never afraid of the teen.
  • Nicholas Pappas, a retired Chicago police officer and firearms instructor, testified that Van Dyke would have been taught that knives were deadly weapons. He said officers were also trained to shoot until “the threat was eliminated.”