2 Alternate Jurors Dismissed from Laquan McDonald Trial Say They Were Leaning Towards a Murder Conviction

Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago cop accused of murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014
Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago cop accused of murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014
Photo: Photo by Scott Olson (Getty Images)

As a 12-person jury continues deliberations in the trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago cop who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, two alternate jurors say they consider Van Dyke guilty of murder.

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The two alternate jurors were released from serving on the jury on Thursday afternoon, freeing them to talk to reporters about their thoughts on the cases presented, reports the Chicago Tribune.

One, described as a Latino man who drives a truck for FedEx, says he “definitely” considers Van Dyke guilty.

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“For me, he should have waited a little bit longer. I mean he knew the Taser was coming. That’s what did it for me,” he said, according to the Tribune.

Another, described as a white woman who works at a law firm, says she too considers Van Dyke guilty, convinced by the fact that no other police officers on the scene felt the teen, who held a small knife in his hand, was a threat, and by video footage that showed Laquan walking away from officers.

“He wasn’t coming at folks,” she said. “Where was he actually causing an issue that Jason Van Dyke thought that he needed to use deadly force? I just didn’t understand that.”

Van Dyke maintained during testimony that he feared for his life, and tried to square his version of events with conflicting video footage by saying the dashcam “didn’t show [his] perspective.”

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Both jurors said the number of shots Van Dyke fired at Laquan that night—16 total—factored into their opinions. The Latino man said he felt a first-degree murder charge was appropriate, whereas the white woman said she would have considered second-degree murder.

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However, the two alternates didn’t take part in any of the jury deliberations, so it’s important to note that the 12 people who ultimately decide Van Dyke’s fate—of whom only one is black—could feel completely differently. And in either case, the alternate jurors’ opinions have no bearing on the final verdict, which could be delivered as soon as today.

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

That we’re even discussing the possibility that he ‘could’ be a murder speaks volumes about just how inside out and backwards the US Justice system is. That he’s a murderer should be beyond debate. He used deadly force without cause or reason. The only question is if he intended to use deadly force before or after he drew his weapon on Laquan. If before, 1st degree. If after, 2nd degree. In either case, he’s still a murderer.

Law enforcement officers need to be held to ethical, moral, and behavioral standards at least as high as the citizens they’re supposed to be protecting. Otherwise, there’s simply no point in HAVING law enforcement officers — they’re simply legal criminals. So if I draw a gun and kill someone without evidence of a clear, present danger to my life, and there’s no question of the fact that I’m a murderer, the same should be equally true of any officer who does the same. Period.