Jury selection complete in Van Dyke trial; opening statements to start Monday

CHICAGO — Opening statements are slated to begin Monday in the trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with murdering Laquan McDonald in 2014.

It is still unknown whether Van Dyke, 40, will choose a bench or jury trial. Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan has given the officer until Friday to decide.

Jury selection wrapped up Thursday afternoon with 12 jurors and five alternates selected in just three days. Only the first 11 picks were sworn in; Van Dyke must make his trial decision before the full jury is seated.

Gaughan has yet to rule on a motion to move Van Dyke's trial out of Cook County. Defense attorneys have long argued it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in Chicago.

Court resumes at 9 a.m. Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave.

Two final jurors selected Thursday include a man with a nuclear engineering degree and a woman who works as a CT technologist. Both are believed to be in their 30s.

The man said he watched dashcam video of the fatal shooting when it was released in 2015: "When I saw the video, I thought he’d gone too far. I thought he violated the law by shooting multiple times."

The woman said she never saw the video and had no opinion on the case: "No matter what your occupation is, if you knowingly did something wrong, you should face consequences."

Five alternates were also chosen Thursday.

Among them: a woman in her 50s who works for Cook County Clerk David Orr; a retired security officer who said he'd seen dashcam video and "can't get nothing out of it"; and a FedEx driver from El Salvador who is close friends with a Chicago police officer.

An alternate who does marketing for a beer company previously served on a jury for aggravated battery to a police officer. The woman, in her 20s or 30s, did not discuss the verdict Thursday.

The final alternate is a woman in her 30s or 40s who knew a lot about the case from news reports: "Do I want to hear this particular trial? Not necessarily."

Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the Oct. 20, 2014, slaying of McDonald, who was shot 16 times. Dashcam video, which was released 13 months later via court order, sparked massive protests.