Jason Van Dyke

Jason Van Dyke (Cook County Sheriff's Department)

Judge Considers Potential For Juror Bias In Officer's Trial

August 03, 2018 - 7:03 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A defense expert for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke told a Criminal Court judge Friday that too many people have formed opinions about Van Dyke for him to get a fair trial in Cook County.

Van Dyke fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during an encounter between the teen and CPD officers in 2014.

Defense expert Daniel Edelman said 87 percent of Cook County residents polled by the defense have an opinion on Van Dyke's guilt; 74 percent believe he is guilty and 67 percent say Van Dyke would have a difficult time proving his innocence.

Judge Vincent Gaughan asked Edelman if he thought the form of question preordained such results, but Edelman said no. 

He stopped short of saying the case has prompted a "media circus," even though he chronicled 528 articles during 2016 in the Chicago Sun-Times, 210 in 2017, and 118 in 2018 through July 6. Likewise, he found 510 articles in 2016 in the Chicago Tribune, 234 in 2017 and 116 through July 6 this year.        

At the time of the shooting, on Oct. 20, 2014, and through the rest of 2014, Edelman said, no article appeared in the Tribune.     

Edelman said the polls found that Cook County residents have well-informed opinions about Van Dyke and said he considers presumption of innocence "undermined."   

The defense has proposed moving the trial to either Lake County (Ill.) or to Madison County, adjacent to St. Louis.    

A prosecution expert said that between 830,000 and 3.4 million Cook County residents could serve as unbiased jurors because they never heard of the case.     

Changes in trial sites are exceedingly rare in Cook County. 

Judge Gaughan has set a Sept. 5 trial date.