By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
During a hearing on July 19 for accused cop turned murderer Jason Van Dyke, his attorneys introduced a motion for a change of venue. Daniel Herbert said it will be impossible for his client to get a fair trial in Cook County. Also at the same hearing, arguments regarding statements Van Dyke made to union officials and the comments made by former Fraternal Order of Police spokesperson Pat Camden to the media, will be admissible in court. Camden could be subpoenaed in the case for a hearing next month.
Herbert said he still does not see the need for his client to return to court for every hearing; citing death threats against his client. Van Dyke walked into the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing Wednesday morning wearing a bulletproof vest. Although some suspect it is merely court dramatics, Herbert believes his client is in real danger.
“He has gotten threats and so has his family. I don’t see how he can get a fair trial here with all of the pre-trial publicity,” Herbert said.
Testifying at the hearing was an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police. Pat Fioretto cited a state statute that he said protects Van Dyke under the law.
“If the information is going to cause an imminent threat or great bodily harm to an individual that could result in death or if the union representative or union itself is a part of any litigation,” Fioretto said.
Judge Vincent Gaughn said he would make his ruling on the motion sometime next month. Defense attorneys plan to present their motion for a change of venue at a future hearing as well. Prosecutors in the meantime are focusing on statements Camden made to the media after the shooting took place. They are arguing that if the information was privileged and needed to be kept among themselves, why was Camden making statements to the media?
Camden has for a long time drawn the ire of many in the Black community. When he was the spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, many felt he lied to the public on purpose when- ever there was a controversial police involved shooting. Camden, say community activists, was one of the main reasons there is a lack of trust between the Black community and police. Community activist William Calloway believes all of the statements Camden and Van Dyke made after the shooting should be allowed at trial.
“I think everything should be used in this prosecution. I think that statement Camden made along with the ones Van Dyke made to his union reps… all of it should be used because all of it is credible information,” Calloway said.
Gaughn has previously ruled that some of the statements made by Van Dyke are admissible at trial.
Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct. He is currently out on bond. He has been stripped of his police powers and has been suspended without pay.