Jason Van Dyke case: New documents released

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Newly-released documents related to the trial of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shed light on the case that received international attention.

The Cook County Clerk's Office unsealed more than 1,000 pages of documents. They were released at the request of several local media organizations, including ABC7.

"Now that the trial is over, the public should certainly have all the facts that were germane to the issue," said Dan Herbert, one of the attorneys who represented Van Dyke at trial.

Among the documents are a proposed questionnaire for potential jurors that includes more than 80 questions about their knowledge of the case and discussion of a psychologist's report about the possible fears Van Dyke may have had at the time of the shooting.

Some actual arrest records and juvenile detention reports about Laquan McDonald were also among the documents. ABC7 has learned those reports were mistakenly released by the Cook County Clerk's Office, but they were among the evidence Van Dyke's defense team wanted the jurors to hear.

Joe McMahon, the special prosecutor in the case, argued that McDonald's juvenile history was irrelevant in part because Van Dyke wasn't aware of it when he opened fire on the teenager, shooting him 16 times.

The shooting was captured on police dashcam video in 2014.

Ultimately the judge did not allow that information to be shared with jurors.

"We certainly wanted to get into all the misconduct and signs of aggressive nature of Laquan McDonald and much of it was kept from the jury," Herbert said.

A jury found Van Dyke guilty for murdering the teenager in October, and the former CPD officer was sentenced earlier this year.

The Cook County Clerk issued a statement Friday about the documents mistakenly released.

"Through an internal investigation into the matter, the Clerk's Office learned that this particular situation was an aberration, as these files were handled outside of the Clerk's Office's normal business processes. The situation has been amended and the restricted files are not accessible," the statement read.

Reverend Marvin Hunter, McDonald's great uncle, said he was disturbed to learn about the mistakenly-released documents.

"He should still have privacy, even in his death," Hunter said. "The powers that be that are supposed to protect us should have done a better job because whatever his records were as a child should have been sealed as the judge ordered them to be."

McMahon echoed Hunter's sentiment.

"While I understand that we all make mistakes, the protective orders entered by Judge Gaughan and the Juvenile Court Act require the Clerk's Office to maintain the confidentiality of records of the victim of this crime," he said. "I expect that additional precautions will be implemented by the Circuit Clerk to fulfill her legal responsibility and prevent this from occurring again."
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