Judge: No Records for Laquan McDonald Shooter
Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer accused of murdering Laquan McDonald in 2014, was denied access to the victim’s juvenile records on Wednesday by Judge Patricia Martin.
This is not the first time that Van Dyke’s lawyers have submitted a request for the records, which detail McDonald’s time as a ward of the state.
Although these types of files are typically confidential, with special permission from a judge, interested parties are able to gain access. To the relief of Laquan’s mother, Tina Hunter, Judge Martin struck down Van Dyke’s lawyers request, stating that the murder charge doesn’t make Van Dyke “an interested party in a child abuse and neglect case,” reports WGN.
Judge Martin initially denied access to the confidential records back in August, but reconsidered before ultimately denying access once more.
The shooting of Laquan McDonald sparked outrage in the city of Chicago and was a catalyst for citywide protests. Members of the defense team are arguing that the teen’s juvenile record is important because his history of criminal activity and psychological issues; along with drug use—Laquan allegedly had PCP in his system at the time of the shooting—can help their murder defense.
Others argue that the defense team is attempting to shift the focus away from the incriminating dash-cam video that shows Van Dyke shooting Laquan from ten feet away, a position in which the officer did not appear to be in any imminent danger, and toward Laquan’s unrelated past.
The release of the video has ushered in a new era in Chicago politics, where police accountability is now on the table and up for discussion although the road to that accountability still remains rocky.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has filed paperwork to fire Van Dyke and four others tied to the shooting of McDonald. For now, Officer Van Dyke remains suspended without pay. It remains unclear if Van Dyke’s lawyers will appeal the judge Martin’s decision at this time.