Laquan McDonald: Verdict reached in Chicago police shooting


CHICAGO-A jury on Friday found police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald after he shot the teenager 16 times in 2014.

He pled not guilty to first-degree murder charges, one charge of official misconduct and 16 counts of aggravated battery. At one point, he sipped water from a bottle. His father lowered his head while some members of the McDonald family held hands.

The jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder, making him the first Chicago police officer to be found guilty of murder while on duty in nearly 50 years. The jury consisted of eight women and four men, seven of them white, one Black, three Hispanic and one Asian.

"I can't rejoice because this man is going to jail", said McDonald's uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter.

The prosecution quickly countered that Van Dyke's account was not corroborated by video evidence of the shooting.

After the shooting there were months of protests and calls for resignations by city officials, accused of cover ups.

"If you don't have hope, you don't have anything", she said. And with enhancements for having used a gun, Van Dyke would have faced a mandatory minimum of 45 years, according to Chicago defense attorney Steve Greenberg, who has defended clients at more than 100 murder trials. Each aggravated battery conviction carries a sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison, but the judge will decide a sentence that includes all the counts together. He said it was a "sad day for law enforcement" because the verdict tells officers they can not do their jobs. "Today our Justice system fulfilled its obligation to justice for all".

Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over what the video actually proved. Of the 96 officers charged in deadly on-duty shootings since 2005, 33 have been convicted of some crime as a result, according to Mr. Stinson's data.

The Chicago Police Department has canceled days off and put officers on 12-hour shifts. The trial had already been a source of outrage, causing several demonstrations.

The city has been on edge in advance of the verdict and city officials and business owners have beefed up security in expectation of protests. Police said he was holding a knife. The city saw protests after video of the shooting was released in November 2015, and activists have been planning how they might react to a verdict.

The shooting was captured on a grainy police dashcam video. Mr. Van Dyke headed to the scene with his partner on October 20, 2014, after hearing a report of someone with a knife stealing vehicle radios and popping an officer's tire.

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Even the staff of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration were given the option to call it a day before the verdict, as police-reform activists swiftly massed in front of City Hall.

Mr. Van Dyke's lawyers maintained that he was doing his job and shot in fear for his life. Van Dyke's bail was revoked and he was immediately taken into custody.

"It wasn't the knife in Laquan's hand that made the defendant kill him that night".

"Those in power know there will be consequences for not valuing black lives". Jurors just started deliberating on Thursday afternoon. and Van Dyke took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday.

Van Dyke must serve 85 percent of whatever sentence the judge sets before being eligible for parole. He had been on the force for 13 years when the shooting happened.

He added, "The state wants to watch the last two minutes of this movie without knowing the context".

"While the jury has heard the case and reached their conclusion, our collective work is not done", they said.

"Someone needed to arrest Laquan McDonald, not stop him with a hail of gunfire", McMahon said in his closing argument on Thursday. Police said McDonald was armed only with a small knife. "He waved the knife from his lower right side upwards across his body towards [his] left shoulder".

Jurors weren't told anything about the range of punishments for each charge.

Correction: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly stated that Van Dyke was handcuffed as he was led from the courtroom.