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:
The #JasonVanDyke jury’s first black member, a 50-ish woman who drives a FedEx truck: “I had an opinion about how many times the shots went off. I can’t lie about that. I just kind of thought…that’s a lot of shots.” Asked if she could sign a not-guilty verdict: “Yes, I could.”— Chip Mitchell (@ChipMitchell1) September 12, 2018
The second juror chosen this morning—a white man, maybe early 30s, occupation unclear—said he’s “a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment” and has “a lot of respect for police officers.” He said he has not seen the video. The defense had no qualms. A prosecutor: “He’s fine, Judge.”— Chip Mitchell (@ChipMitchell1) September 12, 2018
The 8th juror selected is a Hispanic woman, an unemployed grandmother with a grown daughter and a 6-year-old. She said she saw protesters outside the courthouse. Asked by defense if she was scared, she said “yes.” Defense asked her to be removed for cause but the judge refused.— Jason Meisner (@jmetr22b) September 12, 2018
The 9th juror selected is a white woman in her 60s with family connections to the judge. Gaughan’s brother was godfather to her sister, and the judge’s other brother stood up in her father’s wedding. Neither side objected. Said in her questionnaire that “no one is above the law.”— Jason Meisner (@jmetr22b) September 12, 2018
A 10th juror has been selected in the Jason Van Dyke. A young Hispanic woman applying to be a Chicago police officer, passed written test so far. Says she wanted to be a cop since 12. #LaquanMcDonald— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) September 12, 2018
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.