Jason Van Dyke

Jason Van Dyke has been found guilty by a Chicago jury of second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald.

Van Dyke, who is white, killed Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black boy, in October of 2014 by shooting him 16 times. Van Dyke said he chose to shoot McDonald based on the fact that he was walking toward officers with a knife that had a three-inch blade. Other officers who had previously encountered him had not used deadly force, however, and McDonald was not acting menacing toward officers at the time he was shot.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a second-degree murder charge (formerly referred to as “voluntary manslaughter” in Illinois) can carry a prison sentence of anywhere from four to 20 years in prison, though the sentence can also be as light as probation. However, aggravated battery with a firearm comes with a jail sentence of at least six to 30 years, and 85 percent of a sentence for that conviction must be served. This means Van Dyke could very well spend the rest of his life in prison.

In addition to the second-degree murder conviction, Jason Van Dyke was also convicted on multiple counts of aggravated battery with a firearm by the jury — which consisted of eight men and four women (seven white, three Hispanic, one black, one Asian). Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer to have been charged with first-degree murder in 38 years.

The killing of Laquan McDonald set off days of protests in Chicago, with crowds of protesters shutting even down the city’s main shopping district. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was accused of orchestrating a cover-up of the video of the shooting, as he was up for re-election in 2015. However, as of this writing, there has been no investigation launched into Emanuel’s role in the alleged cover-up.

2018 is proving to be a comparatively active year for murder convictions for former police officers. Earlier this year, former Balch Springs, Texas police officer Roy Oliver was found guilty of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in 2017.


Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at nickjewell@yahoo.com. 

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