Patience wearing thin for judge after over two years of pre-trial hearings
Crusader Staff Report
Chicago’s most notorious police shooting case may go to trial this summer because a Cook County judge is getting impatient with defense attorneys who are moving too slow with the case.
The pre-trial proceedings have dragged on for years after Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder one year after he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.
Since then, Van Dyke’s attorneys have filed numerous motions and spent much time building a defense for their embattled client. On several motions, Van Dyke’s lawyers asked the case to be dismissed, saying that information obtained during internal investigations was used in bringing charges against Van Dyke.
But patience is wearing thin for Judge Vincent Gaughan, who on Wednesday, March 28, said he wants the case to go to trial this summer.
“I’m not going to say the specific month, but it will go to trial this summer,” Judge Vincent Gaughan said during the pre-trial hearing on Wednesday. “I want the weather to be the best. That’s something we have a little bit of control over.”
Gaughan is a veteran judge who presided over the child pornography trial of R&B superstar R. Kelly and trials of both defendants charged in the Brown’s Chicken massacre in Palatine. The pre-trial hearings for Van Dyke began in May, 2016, but in recent months, Gaughan has repeatedly expressed a desire for the case to move at a faster pace.
Van Dyke was charged in November 2015 by then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez after a dashcam video was released showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times. The video sparked numerous protests in Chicago and prompted calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation. Emanuel instead fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Alvarez was ousted in the 2016 Democratic Primary.
After demands from Black leaders, Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case.
It’s still uncertain where the trial will take place. Concerned about the high degree of publicity generated by the case, Van Dyke’s lawyers on Wednesday filed a motion to move the case out of Chicago and Cook County.