Judge to decide if Jason Van Dyke statements night of police shooting admissible in trial

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, appeared before Wednesday morning before a judge at the Cook County Courthouse.

Before the court was a motion for the judge to rule on whether statements made the night of the shooting by officers and the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents police officers, should be admissible during his trial.

The judge did not make a decision Wednesday.

Van Dyke was wearing a bullet proof vest during his court appearance and told the judge he fears for his life.

Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery after shooting McDonald 16-times in October 2014.

Video of the shooting, which was released in November 2015, sparked citywide protests and was seen throughout the country.

McDonald, who was armed with a 3-inch blade as he allegedly was stealing car radios, was killed on the South Side as Van Dyke and his partner responded to the scene.

An attorney for the police union testified about what Van Dyke told them on the scene of the shooting.

FOP attorney Pat Fioretto offered the judge insight into the FOP's procedure and policy as Judge Vincent Gaughan considered the motion to block statements made by officers and the FOP spokesman at that time.

Judge Gaughan said he wants to hear from those officers, so a continuance to conclude the motion was scheduled for August 11.

The judge has previously ruled that some of the statements Van Dyke made the night of the shooting are admissible.

Van Dyke's lawyer on Wednesday solidified his intent to seek a change of venue in the high-profile case of his client who accused of murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Defense attorney Dan Herbert formally told the judge that he planned to file a motion seeking a change of venue, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

It raises the possibility that jurors from a location outside of Cook County could be brought in to Gaughan's courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse to decide Van Dyke's fate. Or the trial to could be moved to another county altogether.

The purpose of a change of venue would be to find jurors who are not tainted by the case, which has received wide spread media coverage, sparked repeated street protests and triggered a Justice Department investigation that resulted in a scathing review of the practices of the Chicago Police Department, where reforms are ongoing and controversial.

The legal maneuver is no surprise. In June of last year, before a gag order was in place preventing attorneys from chatting to reporters, Herbert indicated his intention to seek a change of venue and pointed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in explaining why.

"Exhibit A is going to be the mayor and his comments," Herbert said at the time.

Rahm Emanuel "has essentially told everyone in the public, everyone in the City Council that my client actually murdered Mr. McDonald, and that he's a bad apple and that he doesn't belong in the police department and he committed acts that were indefensible," Herbert said.

Emanuel had no comment at the time and a representative from his office did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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