CHICAGO (FOX 32 NEWS) - Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke's exclusive TV interview with FOX 32 has prompted a strong reaction from Laquan McDonald’s family and community activists.
They suggest Van Dyke is talking to reporters as part of a calculated effort to influence potential jurors in his trial.
“If I was his attorneys, I would tell him to say exactly what he said,” said Reverend Martin Hunter.
Reverend Hunter was McDonald's great uncle. He's also been the family's spokesperson since McDonald was shot and killed by Officer Van Dyke. Now, he says Van Dyke's lawyers are trying to create their own narrative of what happened, one which doesn't match the facts: Sixteen shots at a teenager carrying a knife and walking away from the cops.
“This is clearly murder, this is clearly murder and the old additive, don't believe what your lying eyes see, does not apply, because this time we have a tape,” Hunter said.
Hunter says he's speaking out today only in the interests of justice.
“I’m certainly not going to do anything to try and influence anyone. I think that this tour, if it's nothing else, it is trying to write the narrative of what a juror should or shouldn't think,” Hunter said.
Attorney Jeff Neslund represented the McDonald Family in negotiations for a $5-million-dollar settlement with the city. He suggests Van Dyke's speaking out is trying to win over potential jurors before the trial even starts.
“I think it's a rather transparent attempt here to try to influence the jury pool. You go on this publicity tour a week before the trial starts. After asking for secrecy and filing everything under seal. I think it's a little obvious and transparent what the defense is trying to do here,” Neslund said.
Neslund says the McDonald family has difficulty hearing how tough the last few years have been for Van Dyke.
“They talk about the darkest day in his career? This is certainly the darkest day for the McDonald family as well,” Neslund said.
Community organizer William Calloway, who's helping to organize protests outside the Van Dyke courtroom next week, calls Van Dyke's interviews nothing more than “a sympathy tour.”
“He's a racist, murdering cop. He belongs in prison for the rest of his life as far as I’m concerned, as far as my community is concerned,” Calloway said.
Calloway says he listened to Van Dyke's interview and heard nothing to convince him that the officer did not commit first-degree murder when he fired sixteen shots at the 17-year-old teenager.
Calloway does not believe that Van Dyke's words are sincere.
“I don't feel he's genuine. I don’t feel that he has any remorse for what he did to Laquan McDonald on that October night. None whatsoever,” Calloway said.
A spokesman for the McDonald family says that without ever meeting Van Dyke, they can't know whether his feelings are genuine, but they do believe Van Dyke committed murder and they hope justice is done.