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Judge In Laquan McDonald Case Grills City Lawyer Over Transparency

By Erica Demarest | December 8, 2016 6:57pm | Updated on December 9, 2016 11:18am
 Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 38, is charged with official misconduct and first-degree murder.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 38, is charged with official misconduct and first-degree murder.
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Chicago Tribune

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A Cook County judge on Thursday grilled a city attorney, asking whether a request she made concerning Officer Jason Van Dyke's murder case was in line with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's transparency policy.

The 9-page request presented to Judge Vincent Gaughan asked defense attorney Daniel Herbert and special prosecutor Joseph McMahon not to disseminate roughly 240,000 emails subpoenaed from the Chicago Police Department and the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA).

"Due to the broad nature of the search," attorney Lisette Mojica wrote in her motion, "... the vast majority of the emails and attachments produced by the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] are not relevant to the Laquan McDonald shooting."

Judge Gaughan interrupted Mojica as she presented her case early Thursday.

"I don't mean to be facetious," Gaughan said, "but have you consulted with the mayor? Because, you know, on June 13, 2016, Mayor Emanuel ... made a statement on transparency, the new policy of the city of Chicago. ... I just want to make sure you're not being inconsistent with the mayor's statement."

"Not at all, your honor," Mojica said.

"Did anybody consult with the mayor to see if this might be undermining his transparency policy?" Gaughan asked.

“Not me personally, judge, so I can’t say for sure," Mojica replied.

Gaughan again grilled Mojica, who eventually conceded that to the best of her knowledge no one had contacted the mayor.

After the exchange, Gaughan brought all of the attorneys associated with Van Dyke's case into his chambers for a private conversation that lasted nearly 50 minutes.

Upon his return, Gaughan informed the courtroom that a tentative arrangement had been reached on the emails. He did not share any details since the deal had not been finalized.

According to Mojica's filing, the city has turned over 115,535 emails from the Chicago Police Department and 124,655 emails from IPRA. Many of these messages include confidential attorney-client privilege and should be returned upon the completion of Van Dyke's trial, Mojica argued.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson earlier this year moved to have Van Dyke and several other officers fired over allegations they lied after the shooting of McDonald.

Laquan McDonald had been stealing truck radios and was armed with a 3-inch blade on Oct. 20, 2014, when Chicago Police officers in Archer Heights called in a radio request for a Taser, prosecutors said.

Van Dyke and his partner responded to the call, but never specified whether they had a Taser. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Van Dyke pulled his gun and emptied his clip into McDonald, shooting the teen 16 times. Video of the shooting, which was released via a court order in November 2015, sparked protests that shut down the Mag Mile and other major streets.

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