A defense expert spun unlikely tales to the mostly white jury, trying to justify the 16 shots that the white officer fired at McDonald. Forensic pathologist Shaku Teas attempted to create reasonable doubt by questioning the autopsy report presented on Sept. 17 by a prosecution expert, the Associated Press reported.
Video evidence, which the cops had tried to hide from the public, shows Van Dyke opening fire on 17-year-old McDonald as he walked away from the police officers surrounding him. The ex-cop continued firing even after McDonald was on the ground.
Teas said most of the shots hit the teenager while he was still standing, testifying that 12 of the 16 shots struck McDonald while he was on his feet. That contradicted prosecutors who argued that the teen fell to the ground in less than two seconds after the first bullet entered his body.
She also suggested that McDonald didn’t suffer a long death. The fourth shot, which hit his chest, “caused him to die rapidly,” in about five minutes, Teas stated. The chest wound indicated that the teen was facing Van Dyke when that shot was fired, she added.
However, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County’s chief medical examiner, testified last week that it’s impossible to determine the order of McDonald’s wounds.
The defense wants to convince the jury that the shooting was somehow justified because McDonald was a violent young man. Defense witnesses, including a juvenile detention center worker, testified Monday about the teen’s alleged violent behavior.
Even if that was true, prosecutors underscored that Van Dyke had no way of knowing about McDonald’s character at the time of the shooting.
The defense team’s expert appeared to crumble under the pressure of cross-examination, contradicting her own testimony on the witness stand, the AP said.
Moments after the shooting, several police officers attempted to protect Van Dyke. Prosecutors won grand jury indictments against three current or former Chicago police officers who allegedly filed false accounts and failed to interview witnesses who might have contradicted their version of the incident.
Worse yet, this case probably wouldn’t have come to trial if a judge didn’t order the public release of dashcam video more than a year after the shooting. The video ignited mass protests and prompted the prosecutor to file first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke.