Two Alternate Jurors Leaned Toward Convicting Van Dyke

Bob Roberts
October 04, 2018 - 6:12 pm

Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- When the judge in the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke dismissed two of the alternate jurors hearing the case, they promptly spoke with reporters.  It was of little comfort to Van Dyke or his legal team.

Two alternate jurors excused from service in the trial of Jason Van Dyke say they would likely have voted to convict Van Dyke, who faces murder and aggravated battery charges in the October 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The jurors made their comments to reporters Thursday evening, shortly after deliberations ended for the day at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building.

The male alternate said he would have held out for a first-degree murder conviction.

"For me, he should have waited," the male juror said in a 15-minute meeting with pool reporters overseen by Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan.

The female alternate said she would have considered a second-degree murder conviction, but had issues with the sequence of events as laid out by Van Dyke's legal team.

She said one and a half seconds is quick, and said regardless of what he had heard on police radio before his arrival, Van Dyke had too little to go on at the scene before opening fire.  She noted that other officers who preceded Van Dyke and his partner to the scene had seen no reason to open fire.

The male juror called the shooting "another crazy night in Chicago." 

And although the two alternates dismissed said they would vote to convict Van Dyke, that does not mean everyone on the jury shares their sentiments. 

Criminal defense attorney Richard Kling said there are many ways this verdict could do, especially because there are aggravated battery counts for each of the 16 bullets fired, in addition to deliberations on first- or second-degree murder.

The remaining jurors, who have options of convicting Van Dyke of first-degree or second-degree murder or acquitting him, are being sequestered for the night and will resume deliberations Friday morning. Three alternate jurors remain. Judge Vincent Gaughan indicated that he will ask jurors to deliberate straight through the three-day Columbus Day weekend.

Kling reminds reporters and other observers that it takes only one dissenting juror to force a mistrial. 

Earlier, Judge Vincent Gaughan threatened to re-open consideration of bail for Van Dyke, after he was late returning to the courtroom.

Van Dyke's lawyers say his daughter had been threatened at school. The judge demanded proof of the threat before court resumes in the morning.