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Journalist To Testify In Laquan McDonald Case Says He Won't Reveal Sources

By Erica Demarest | October 17, 2017 4:38pm | Updated on October 20, 2017 11:45am
 Veteran Chicago reporter Jamie Kalven (left) could be asked to testify about the Laquan McDonald case. Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke (right) is charged with murdering 17-year-old McDonald in 2014.
Veteran Chicago reporter Jamie Kalven (left) could be asked to testify about the Laquan McDonald case. Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke (right) is charged with murdering 17-year-old McDonald in 2014.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke; Chicago Tribune/Nancy Stone

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — An attorney for the Chicago Police officer who killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014 wants a local journalist to take the stand in coming weeks — but the journalist says he won't reveal his sources.

Defense attorney Daniel Herbert in court Tuesday said he is "99 percent sure" that veteran Chicago reporter Jamie Kalven was helped by FBI agents when interviewing eyewitnesses to the October 2014 slaying.

Herbert also claimed Kalven "somehow obtained" police reports that include statements from Jason Van Dyke, the 39-year-old officer facing murder charges after fatally shooting McDonald 16 times.

At issue is whether those documents contain statements Van Dyke made to superior officers that were later deemed inadmissible in court.

"I certainly will comply with the request to testify," Kalven said in a phone interview Tuesday. But "I can't really imagine any circumstances in which I will reveal my sources. I mean, that's just pretty fundamental for us as journalists."

When Judge Vincent Gaughan on Tuesday agreed to call in Kalven, he warned Herbert: "But you understand ... there's a reporter privilege that he does not have to give up the source."

No date has been set for Kalven's testimony.

Judge Gaughan is expected to address the matter again Oct. 25 during Van Dyke's next court appearance.

Kalven last year won a Polk Award for "Sixteen Shots," a February 2015 article that exposed a possible cover-up in the McDonald shooting. Kalven was the first to report that eyewitness accounts and McDonald's autopsy contradicted the police narrative provided to reporters.

Kalven also founded the Invisible Institute, a South Side production company focused on accountability in public institutions.

According to prosecutors, McDonald was armed with a 3-inch blade and stealing truck radios when Chicago police officers in Archer Heights called in a request for a stun gun on Oct. 20, 2014.

Van Dyke and his partner responded to the call, but never specified whether they had a stun gun, according to authorities. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Van Dyke pulled his gun and emptied his magazine into McDonald.

Video of the shooting, which was released via court order in November 2015, sparked citywide protests that shut down the Mag Mile. Shortly after, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was fired; Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her bid for re-election; and a sweeping investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice found racism and widespread abuse in the Chicago Police Department.

Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes in June brought charges against three Chicago police officers accused of helping cover up the McDonald shooting: former detective David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney.

All three are charged with conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice. Each has pleaded not guilty.

RELATED: 'Code Of Silence': 3 Officers Indicted In Alleged Laquan McDonald Cover-Up