For those who don’t remember the video or details of Laquan McDonald’s death, they were horrific. If you need context, video and forensic evidence show Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 shots at McDonald over a 14 second period while McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke and several other officers on the scene. The fatal shooting occurred in October, 2014 before the Whiskey Congress Podcast existed. Steve and I were doing a different podcast at the time and during the episode that discussed the fatal shooting of Mr. McDonald by Officer Van Dyke, we went silent for 14 seconds for purposes of providing context. I remember sitting across the table from my co-host as we let that time elapse. I remember watching the video where Laquan’s body spun and collapsed to the ground. It was all caught on video and it was as I said, horrific. I am not the only person to use that word to describe these events. A woman who has been selected for the jury in Officer Van Dyke’s upcoming trial also described what she saw as “horrific”. Defense attorneys representing Officer Van Dyke attempted to remove the juror on the grounds that her response demonstrated her bias heading into the trial. There is another factor that may have played a role. The juror is a black woman. The defense team had previously removed two black members of the jury pool and the prosecutors argued that the defense team was trying to use race as a factor in jury selection. Race is not a legal reason to disqualify a potential juror but it’s disingenuous to say that it doesn’t play a role in our society and our legal process. The Whiskey Congress Podcast is committed to honest open talk about race, the American Legal System and politics (among other things including whiskey). The jury in the trial of Officer Van Dyke will be multi-racial. They will all see video evidence of an officer of the law mowing down a citizen that was no threat to him or his fellow officers (none of whom fired a shot). This case should be open and shut. Having said that, I will be disappointed but not surprised if this case ends in a mistrial and the racial makeup of the jury may play a role. We as Americans need to stop denying that race plays a role in our legal system (as well as our every day lives). Until we admit that, we will never evolve to a better society where it doesn’t. I hope to be alive to see that day.
"CHICAGO — Attorneys sparred over race on Wednesday during jury selection in the trial of a white Chicago police officer charged in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager.
An African-American woman who works as a FedEx driver was selected in the first hour of the second day of jury selection, but only after prosecutors in a motion accused Officer Jason Van Dyke’s attorneys of illegally trying to keep minorities from sitting on the jury.
The issue came up when defense attorneys asked to keep her off the jury, pointing to the woman’s reply to a questionnaire in which she said the shooting of Laquan McDonald 16 times was “horrific” and her hesitation when asked during jury selection if she’d be comfortable acquitting Van Dyke.