COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — As prosecutors continue to build a case against Jason Van Dyke, they will have access to statements the Chicago Police officer made to union representatives the night he killed Laquan McDonald, a Cook County judge ruled Friday.
Van Dyke, 39, faces charges of first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the October 2014 slaying.
During a routine status hearing Friday, special prosecutor Joseph McMahon sought permission to use statements Van Dyke made to union representatives Kriston Kato and Marlon Harvey hours after Van Dyke fatally shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.
Despite objections from defense attorneys Daniel Herbert and Steven Craig "Randy" Rueckert, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan granted the request following an hour of testimony at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave.
Gaughan's fifth-floor courtroom was packed Friday morning with roughly 50 demonstrators in the gallery — answering activist William Calloway's call to "stand in support" and demand a trial date.
For a brief time, 20 to 30 activists could be heard shouting "No justice! No peace! No racist police!" from the hallway outside Gaughan's courtroom. The veteran judge called a brief recess after requesting additional security.
According to courthouse sources, the group was required to leave the floor under fear of being held in criminal contempt for disrupting Gaughan's court call. Pilsen teacher Moises Bernal was held in contempt in May for snapping his fingers during a hearing.
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Protesters line up outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse demanding justice for Laquan McDonald. DNAinfo/Kayla Martinez
Shortly after the hallway chanters were escorted outside, a Cook County sheriff's deputy asked Calloway to leave Gaughan's courtroom. Calloway, who never made any noise during the hearing, later revealed in a phone interview that his "16 Shots" t-shirt was deemed inappropriate.
"I don't think [the shirt] was a disturbance," Nataki Rhodes said outside after the hearing. It was "freedom of speech. Chicago and the mayor and these police officers, they're trying to muzzle us as the people and as the protestors."
Rhodes, who attended Friday's hearing as a member of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, said she felt a high level of intimidation in the courtroom.
"I know this is a high-profile case," Rhodes said, "and I know the judge just wants everyone to be safe. But we as citizens, we shouldn't feel intimidated. We should feel free to go into the courtroom without no one being thrown out or threatened."
Calloway, who was instrumental in getting dashcam footage McDonald's slaying released via court order in 2015, said he was frustrated by how things played out Friday.
"They're just giving Van Dyke all this special treatment," Calloway said. "I'm really frustrated and fatigued from going back to court for all these monthly hearings and there's still no trial. Van Dyke still hasn't been held accountable to the community, and Laquan hasn't received justice."
Herbert last month said he plans to eventually file a change-of-venue motion. The attorney has frequently complained about courthouse demonstrators and told reporters he doesn't believe Van Dyke will have a fair trial or impartial jury in Chicago.
Before Friday's hearing, protesters lined up outside.
According to prosecutors, McDonald was armed with a 3-inch blade and stealing car radios when Chicago police officers in Archer Heights called in a request for a Taser on Oct. 20, 2014. It was later revealed McDonald had PCP in his system.
Van Dyke and his partner responded to the call, but never specified whether they had a Taser, according to authorities. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Van Dyke pulled his gun and emptied his magazine into McDonald.
Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes in June brought charges against three Chicago Police officers accused of helping cover up the McDonald shooting: former Det. David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney.
All three men are charged with conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice. Each pleaded not guilty.