Van Dyke’s attorneys have lined up at least two more expert witnesses — one on the use of deadly force by police and the other a psychologist expected to testify about the physiological effects that police officers endure in dangerous incidents.
Before Van Dyke’s attorneys wrap up their case, however, the officer himself must go before Judge Vincent Gaughan and say whether will take the witness stand. That decision could come as soon as Tuesday.
By law, jurors cannot hold it against Van Dyke if he opts not to testify in his own defense. During questioning last month, jurors were asked by the judge if they understood that legal principle.
But many legal experts contacted by the Chicago Tribune said it would be risky for Van Dyke to decline to testify, since he has claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. But his testimony would also carry risks.
Van Dyke, 40, faces two counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct for the October 2014 shooting. Police dashboard camera video released by court order showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of exiting his squad car as McDonald, holding a knife, appeared to walk away from police. Prosecutors have said he had no legal justification for firing even one shot — let alone 16.
Last week, Van Dyke’s attorneys called a number of witnesses to bolster their portrayal of McDonald as a menacing, out-of-control teenager who was high on PCP and ignoring police commands the night he was shot.
Among them was Rudy Barillas, a truck driver who testified a black male — believed to be McDonald — tried to stab him after he called 911 after seeing the teen had broken into a truck in a secure lot at 41st Street and Kildare Avenue.
On Thursday, a pharmacologist told jurors that McDonald had used PCP within a “relatively recent period” before he was shot, and that the levels found in his blood could cause hallucinations, behavioral changes and aggression, among other effects.