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The Judge For The Laquan McDonald Murder Trial Is An Eerily Perfect Fit

By Mae Rice in News on Jan 19, 2016 5:40PM

Today, the Reader—which has been dominating this weekprofiled Vincent Gaughan, the judge who will preside over Officer Jason Van Dyke’s murder trial.

Gaughan was chosen by a randomized computer program, but as reporter Steve Bogira notes, he’s weirdly perfect for the job. He served in Vietnam, and will presumably have some sympathy with the pressures police face, but he’s also been in roughly Laquan McDonald’s shoes—albeit with a very different outcome.

Vietnam left him what Gaugan’s dad called “nervous,” Bogira reports. One night when Gaugan was 28, after a minor traffic accident, he went into his bedroom, locked the door, and snapped. He started shooting from his room into his neighbor’s bedroom across the way. His neighbors called the police.

When police arrived, though, they treated him very differently than you might expect. First, they brought a priest and friend of his to talk to him, per his request; eventually, the tension was defused, and Gaughan went voluntarily to the police station without harming (or being harmed by) the officers.

After that, as Bogira puts it:

[Tribune reporter Bill] Mullen reported that Gaughan was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful use of a weapon, failure to register a weapon, and discharging a firearm in the city. But there was a warm and uplifting tone to the story nonetheless. Police had worked to calm Gaughan and had responded with restraint—extraordinary restraint, if indeed four people, two of them police officers, had nearly been shot. The officers called to the scene hadn't tried to chase Gaughan from his room with tear gas, which could have led to a deadly shootout on the stairway.

Basically, Gaughan lived out the alternate-universe version of the McDonald’s life, in which he not only survived but went on to become a judge. Now, Gaughan will try Van Dyke, indicted for six counts of murder for fatally shooting McDonald.

Will this make his judgment more fair, or less? head over to the Reader to get Bogira’s take.