From [HERE] and [HERE] If not for the reporting of Jamie Kalven, an independent journalist in Chicago, the world might never have known the name Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a police officer as he walked down a street holding a folding knife.
Mr. Kalven questioned the official police account of the shooting and revealed the existence of a police dashboard-camera video that documented the episode. Months and many court fights later, Chicago city officials were forced to release the video of the shooting, which showed Mr. McDonald, 17, being shot again and again one night in 2014, even after he lay crumpled on the street.
Three years later, Mr. Kalven finds himself forced back into the case, subpoenaed by lawyers for the police officer, Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder in Mr. McDonald’s death. [MORE]
Should he be forced, under oath, to reveal his sources?
That question was at the heart of a court hearing Wednesday in the case against Van Dyke. An answer to this question will have to come another day.
This is just the latest diversion from the central question of Mr. Van Dyke’s guilt or innocence, and another delay in a closely watched murder case.
Two years ago, Mr. Van Dyke was charged with murder and was released and Chicago erupted in protest. Since then, the case has slowly crawled toward resolution. Mr. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty but no trial date has been set. The venue of the trial — whether here or in a more distant county in Illinois — is a matter of contention. And it remains to be seen whether the case will be decided in a bench trial or by a jury.
The showdown with Mr. Kalven was prompted by Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyer, who suggested that Mr. Kalven obtained leaked documents and may have passed along that information to witnesses of the shooting, influencing their accounts to investigators.
The fight over Mr. Kalven’s sources threatens to push the start of the trial even further down the road, delaying legal proceedings that many Chicagoans say should have already begun. Mr. Kalven, the founder of the Invisible Institute, a local independent news organization, said he is prepared to fight what he sees as a broadside on his First Amendment rights. In a legal filing this month, his lawyer called the effort an “unjustified fishing expedition” - because it is. [MORE]
The lawyer for Van Dyke raised eyebrows in the courtroom on Wednesday when he compared the plight of his white client to a decades-old Supreme Court case regarding the confessions of three black sharecroppers who were tortured by white police officers in Mississippi. First let's review the facts.
McDonald, 17, was killed in October 2014 when Van Dyke , shot him 16 times. Shortly before 10:00 p.m., police were called to investigate McDonald at 4100 South Pulaski Road responding to reports that he was carrying a knife and breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard at 41st Street and Kildare Avenue. When officers confronted McDonald, he used a knife with a 3-inch blade or pocket knife to slice the tire on a patrol vehicle and damage its windshield. McDonald walked away from police after numerous verbal instructions from officers to drop the knife, at which point responding officers requested Taser backup.
Video of the shooting shows that Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke when the first shot was fired. The first shot hit McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground. As McDonald lay on the ground, still holding the knife, Van Dyke fired more shots into him. In total, Van Dyke shot MacDonald 16 times in 14–15 seconds, expending the maximum capacity of his 9mm semi-automatic firearm. Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and began shooting approximately six seconds after exiting his car. The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force.
The initial police portrayals of the incident, consisting of about 400 pages of typed and handwritten reports, prompted police supervisors to rule the case a justifiable homicide and within the bounds of the department's use of force guidelines. The reports did not say how many times McDonald was shot and said McDonald was acting "crazed" and lunged at officers after refusing to drop his knife. Michael D. Robbins, one of the attorneys representing the McDonald estate, said his initial thoughts were that “I didn’t think there was a case if he had lunged at a police officer,” adding, "The police narrative, without exception, is that the use of force is justified and necessary, which it sometimes is.
One police report described that McDonald "raised the knife across chest" and pointed it at Van Dyke. Van Dyke told investigators that he feared McDonald would rush him with the knife or throw it at him, and he also recalled a 2012 Police Department bulletin warning about a knife that was also capable of firing a bullet, as well as throwing knives and also spring-loaded knives capable of propelling the blade. One report noted that McDonald's knife "was in the open position" but, when announcing charges against Van Dyke, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the knife was found folded at the scene.
Kalven and other reporters noted inconsistencies between the narrative police told reporters, the autopsy, and an anonymous eye-witness account before the video was publicly released. A whistle-blower expressed concern over the handling of the McDonald shooting a few weeks after the shooting, revealing "that there was a video and that it was horrific," to Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman. The pair issued a statement calling on Chicago police to release the dash-cam video of the incident. The city of Chicago denied at least 15 requests for its release. Klaven's article, “Sixteen Shots,” which appeared in Slate in February 2015, forced the case out of obscurity.
It wasn’t until a year after Mr. McDonald’s death — and after a judge told the city it had to release the video — that Mr. Van Dyke was charged with murder. He was the only officer among more than a half-dozen on the scene to fire a weapon at the teenager. Three other officers were indicted on state felony counts of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, accused of filing false reports and lying about what happened the night of Mr. McDonald’s death.
The video revealed the many, many lies told by cops as it contradicted nearly everything police said happened the night McDonald died. [MORE] and [MORE] Thus, far the cop's murder trial has been a charade. And on Wednesday, the killer cop's defense attorney continued with his show - a show only a white attorney could get away with in a system of racism/white supremacy, not justice.
Judge Vincent Gaughan, who has been presiding over this case, put off an immediate ruling on the defense’s request to subpoena reporter Jamie Kalven and have him divulge his sources. Gaughan ruled that Kalven was indeed a journalist, which would purport to mean he does indeed fall under Illinois law protecting journalists’ sources.
That law states that “No court may compel any person to disclose the source of any information obtained by a reporter,” unless state and federal law dictates that that information must be kept secret, or there’s a compelling public interest that outweighs the reporters’ confidentiality rights.
Daniel Herbert, the racist suspect attorney for the killer cop, alleged that Kalven somehow influenced another witness’s testimony by showing him privileged information, including Van Dyke’s own initial witness statement. Herbert acknowledged there was no physical evidence supporting that claim and Kalven denies any of that is true.
The defense is trying to portray Van Dyke as the victim of an unfair and biased process that would ensure that he could not get a fair trial.
According to Herbert, records show that someone without authorization accessed a computer system and may have seen documentation of statements that Van Dyke made to investigators [admitting that he shot McDonald while he was walking away from him] after the shooting — statements that, by long-standing legal precedent, cannot be used against him in a criminal case [which will make no difference because teh killer cop lied to the public about what happened prior to the release of the video. At any rate the video clearly impeaches his initial explanations and self-defense is not a viable option]
Herbert further alleged that someone leaked that protected information to Kalven, who used it to interview a witness, in the process influencing that witness’s later statements to authorities.
But Kalven’s attorney, Matthew Topic, repeatedly denied that the journalist had obtained leaked information, let alone influenced the accounts of witnesses. In court papers filed before the hearing, Topic had called Herbert’s efforts “an unjustified fishing expedition.”
Any information Kalven published about the official police narrative of the shooting likely came from a Police Department news release or from public statements by a police union representative the night of the incident, not from improperly obtained documents, Topic said.
“The idea that Mr. Van Dyke’s defense was some sort of mystery is not borne out,” Topic told the judge. “His own (union) representative made clear he was going to argue his life was threatened.”
But if Kalven used protected information to interview witnesses, that would violate Van Dyke’s constitutional rights, Herbert argued in court. [sounds frivolous and without factual support counselor appears to be fucking around to justify his fee & to amuse himself].
Herbert reached back some 80 years or more to compare Van Dyke’s case with a decades-old Supreme Court case regarding the confessions of three black sharecroppers who were tortured by white police officers in Mississippi.
The defendants in the 1936 Brown v. Mississippi decision were accused of killing a white farmer, and were lashed with belts, beaten, and in one case, left to dangle from a tree branch by a noose — startling abuse that led justices to overturn their murder convictions.
Just as those confessions should not have been used against them, Van Dyke’s legally protected statements should not be used against him, he said.
“Am I comparing Jason Van Dyke to people who have suffered years and years of slavery? No,” Herbert said. “But from a legal standpoint, it’s exactly the same thing.”
The comparison appeared surprising given the racial overtone of the white officer’s shooting of the black teen — a case that shined a bright light on the the African-American community’s widespread distrust of the police.
“The constitutional argument is that the immunized statement, his confession, should not have been used. It’s the same thing, legally, as those sharecroppers that were tortured," he told the judge.
Pause whatever initial tickle of rage you feel at the simple comparison here. The detail of the thing is worse.
The Chicago Police Department itself tortured false confessions out of dozens, if not hundreds, of black men and women throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It turned a large swathe of black Chicago over to a cop named Jon Burge and his self-described “midnight crew” of uniformed public servants. Burge’s crimes were only recently settled in civil court — and police families are already objecting to a settlement condition adding Burge to local school curricula.
For over two decades, Burge’s gang would grab up somebody they thought fit the bill for a given crime, take them somewhere private, and beat them until they stopped insisting on their innocence. These confessions were then used to imprison the torture victims — sometimes, as in Stanley Wrice’s case, to rot for more than a quarter of a century for crimes they didn’t commit.
The Mississippi hellions with badges who Jason Van Dyke’s lawyer wants a judge to think back on today followed the same playbook a few decades before Burge’s reign of terror began.
When a white landowner in Kemper County was found dead on a Friday afternoon in 1934, a sheriff’s deputy grabbed up nearby sharecropper Arthur Ellington. The deputy and a crowd of white man gathered at the deceased’s home proceeded to non-fatally lynch Ellington — ritualistically stringing him up and taking him back down, then tying him to a tree and whipping him for having the insolence to still deny he’d killed the man.
The next day, cops grabbed up Ellington again, along with fellow sharecroppers Ed Brown and Henry Shields, and took them to the nearby jail. There, the three “were laid over chairs and their backs were cut to pieces with a leather strap with buckles on it,” according to the summary of the case found in then-Chief Justice Hughes’ Supreme Court opinion vacating their convictions. The three black men “were likewise made by the said deputy definitely to understand that the whipping would be continued unless and until they confessed, and not only confessed, but confessed in every matter of detail as demanded by those present,” Hughes summarized further.
This, then, is the form of compulsory confession to which Van Dyke’s lawyer wishes to compare, “legally speaking,” his client’s statements to peers and oversight board members in the 21st century.