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Prosecution rests its case in Van Dyke murder trial

Expert witness says shooting of Laquan McDonald was “unjustified” and “unreasonable”

By Erick Johnson

State prosecutors rested their case in the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke on Thursday, September 20, capping a full week of testimony that ended with an expert witness who said the shooting of Laquan McDonald was “unjustified” and “unreasonable.”

Reverend Jesse Jackson and McDonald’s mother, Tina Hunter were among the spectators who filled the courtroom and listened to the testimony of Urey Patrick, a Princeton graduate and retired FBI firearms training instructor, who viewed the video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014.

“My assessment of the situation was that the risk posed by Mr. McDonald did not rise to the necessity of using deadly force to stop him,” Patrick testified.

Later Patrick said, “Mr. McDonald is armed with a knife. To harm somebody with a knife you have to be within reach of them. Mr. McDonald has, to the best of my knowledge even today, never said anything to anybody, never made any threats, never made any moves toward the police officers confronting him in this video. He’s walking away from them. He’s a risk, no question. He’s been non-compliant and he is armed with a knife. But there is nobody within reach of him and he is moving away from the only people on the scene.”

During cross examination, Defense Attorney Daniel Herbert questioned Patrick whether someone with a knife from 21 feet away can win a confrontation “every time.”

Patrick said, “I can’t agree with that. It depends on what the other person is prepared to do,” Patrick replied.

The state’s last witness of the day was Jose Torres. He’s the father of another eyewitness, Xavier Torres, who earlier this week, testified that McDonald did not threaten officers before Van Dyke shot him at 41st and Pulaski.

Jose drove his son Xavier to hospital that night when they saw McDonald moments before he was gunned down. Both said they saw the incident from their vehicle near 41st and Pulaski.

Jose said he saw McDonald “turn his face turn toward their direction. That’s the only thing I saw him do.”

Torres later said that McDonald “was trying to walk away . . . He was just trying to get away from them.”

This week, several Chicago police officers and eyewtiness  say 17-year old Laquan McDonald wasn’t a threat to them the night he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, whose murder trial is well underway at the Leighton Criminal Courts building on the West Side.

After 24 witnesses, the state rested its case after a surprising week of proceedings that moved quicker than most expected. Before Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon formally rested the state’s case before the jury, Herbert requested to Judge Vincent Gaughan that the case be dismissed because the state failed to present any evidence that showed his client’s intent to kill McDonald. But Gaughan disagreed and said the defense will present its side of the case on Monday, September 24.



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