CHICAGO (FOX 32 NEWS) - On Wednesday morning, jury selection begins in Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke's first-degree murder trial for the 2014 shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald.
Now, his wife Tiffany Van Dyke is speaking out about that shooting, it's impact on their family and their nearly 20-year marriage. She tells FOX 32's Dane Placko the man she married is not the man she sees being portrayed by prosecutors and protesters as a racist, trigger-happy cop.
"My relationship with my husband has never been closer. We are extremely close,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany says the furor surrounding her husband's shooting of Laquan McDonald has tested their marriage like never before.
"He doesn't sleep right. He doesn't eat right. He doesn't go out in public very much. And it affects him tremendously,” she said.
Dane Placko: "Who is the man you married?"
"A very, very quiet, soft spoken humble human being,” Tiffany said.
But protesters have painted Jason Van Dyke as a racist, trigger-happy cop and the shooting a product of racist policies within the Chicago Police Department.
"My husband is nowhere near a racist. The night of that incident he did not know what he was walking into. He was coming into. It was not racially motivated. And at the same time my family is multi-racial. My brother in law is African-American. He's very close to my husband,” Tiffany said.
Last week in an exclusive television interview with FOX 32, Jason Van Dyke spoke publicly for the first time about his life after the shooting, including thoughts of suicide.
"I was devastated. My heart broke the minute he told me. He was just like maybe it's better if I'm no longer here. And I just looked at him and said you have me. You have your daughters. Keep that in your mind every time you feel like giving up,” Tiffany said.
On Saturday, Tiffany accompanied her husband to court for the first time, which is something she says she will do throughout his trial. She says she stayed away to maintain her privacy and protect their children, but now the stakes are too high.
"This is not something that anyone would ask for. I wouldn't put anybody in my shoes…I took a vow for better or for worse. I stick behind my husband 100-percent,” Tiffany said.