CHICAGO — Two alternate jurors in the Jason Van Dyke trial who were dismissed Thursday said they both leaned toward a guilty verdict for Van Dyke. The two were dismissed after the judge ordered jurors to stop deliberations for the day and sequestered 12 jurors and three other alternates.
Both of the jurors, one man and one woman, spoke to press after they were dismissed around 6 p.m. The woman said she’d consider second-degree murder for Van Dyke, and the man said he would consider first-degree murder.
“I would have leaned toward a guilty verdict," the woman said. When asked why she came to that conclusion, she said, "I think the fact that other officers encountered him, Laquan McDonald, that night and they didn’t feel the need to use deadly force."
The male juror said there were a lot of things that led him to decide Van Dyke was guilty.
“There were a lot of things," he said. "For me, he should have waited a little bit longer. He knew that things were coming. That’s what did it for me."
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan instructed jurors Thursday that when it comes to the murder charge, they have three options:
- convict Van Dyke of first-degree murder
- acquit Van Dyke of first-degree murder
- convict Van Dyke of second-degree murder
Neither dismissed juror said he or she was seriously considering a second-degree murder conviction, and both said they weren’t impressed with the defense’s expensive animation.
The female juror sees it like this: She said McDonald was trying to get away and was not the aggressor the night he was shot.
“Seeing how Laquan McDonald was avoiding and trying to get away from the situation… He popped a tire to try to get away, he hit a car to try to disable it,” she said. “He wasn’t coming at them.”
The male juror said he thought shooting someone 16 times was a lot, and said McDonald hit the ground quick.
“I don’t know what else you could call that except for excessive force,” the female alternate juror said.
Jury deliberations began Thursday around 1 p.m. and ended around 5:15 p.m. in the trial of Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with murdering Laquan McDonald.
Van Dyke, now 40, is charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the Oct. 20, 2014, slaying of 17-year-old McDonald, who was shot 16 times.
Van Dyke took the stand Tuesday to say he only shot McDonald after the teen refused to drop his knife and continued to advance at the officer. Van Dyke's testimony contradicts accounts from eyewitnesses, who testified McDonald was walking away from police when Van Dyke opened fire.
The jurors and alternates will be sequestered until a verdict is reached. Deliberations will continue Friday morning.