On the videotape, several voices tell the white-shirted Vanderhorst to put the knife down. Shuaib, wearing a blue-and-white polo shirt, is seen near Vanderhorst for much of the quick-moving video. He said Vanderhorst was “using me as a shield.” A male youth in a dark shirt also appears to be crowding in on Rhodes at one point. Shuaib told Coleman he did not know his identity.
Shuaib said he told Vanderhorst to leave during a moment not seen on the video — and tried to take his knife. He said the other reason he kept following Vanderhorst around was he “didn’t want anybody else to get involved.”
Shuaib is near Vanderhorst and Rhodes at the time of the stabbing. The video rapidly shows Rhodes being stabbed once in the chest — then chasing Vanderhorst across a street before collapsing.
Prosecutors say Shuaib struck Rhodes in the head before the youth dropped. Vanderhorst and Shuaib both fled. Shuaib was caught blocks away near Lincoln Park — his shirt off. He testified he did not even know Rhodes had been stabbed. He said he ran after Rhodes, who had a smaller knife, to keep him from stabbing Vanderhorst.
“I was scared. I saw all blood, I didn’t know what happened,” Shuaib testified. He said he was also concerned about “messing up my chances to become a cop,” adding, “I just didn’t want to get caught up in something I had nothing to do with.”
In cross-examination, Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi asked Shuaib, who had a cellphone, why he didn’t call 911 when he saw Rhodes on the ground bleeding. He asked Shuaib if he wanted to get away to get on with his life to become a police officer. Shuaib answered affirmatively. Rossi pressed Shuaib if he had understood Rhodes was someone who was “always running his mouth.” Shuaib replied, “Yes.”
“Were you afraid of Tyler Rhodes that day in the park?” Rossi asked.
“No,” Shuaib answered. He told Rossi he did not believe Vanderhorst really wanted to stab Rhodes. He said he thought it was “all show,” adding, “(Vanderhorst) didn’t want to seem like a punk.” Rossi asked Shuaib why he would not think Vanderhorst wanted to stab Rhodes given he was swinging a large knife at him.
“Would you agree that Jah-Lah was acting crazy” Rossi asked.
“Yes,” Shuaib said, adding that he still believed Rhodes could have gotten away.
“You were trying to help Jah-Lah?” Rossi asked.
“Not help him kill anybody,” Shuaib answered.
Rossi showed part of the video in which Shuaib is seen in front of Vanderhorst.
“So, to get the knife away from Jah-Lah you turned your back on him?” Rossi asked. “You did this by not looking at him?”
He also asked Shuaib if he considered Rhodes a threat to Vanderhorst. When Shuaib said it was possible, Rossi questioned why, then, would Shuaib try to take his friend’s knife away and leave him defenseless against Rhodes.
“To get Jah-Lah to leave,” Shuaib answered.
Rossi asked, “Your testimony, to be clear, is that you didn’t have physical contact with Tyler Rhodes until he was stabbed?”
“Exactly,” Shuaib answered.