Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder of Laquan McDonald
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of Black, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. You can click here to read more background on this case.
Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery; one for each bullet he sent into the 17-year old’s body. He was found not guilty of official misconduct. Second-degree murder usually carries a sentence of less than 20 years. In Illinois, aggravated battery with a firearm carries a minimum sentence of 6 years, and a maximum penalty of 30 to 60 years.
While probation is allowed for second-degree murder, it is not allowed for the Class X felony of aggravated battery using a firearm.
Van Dyke took the witness stand on Tuesday, and on cross-examination was asked about a statement he made to his partner as they approached the shooting scene: “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot the guy.”
“I thought the officers were under attack,” Van Dyke said.
After the verdict, a woman juror said a changing point for many of the jurors was when it was revealed that Van Dyke said to his partner that they might have to shoot McDonald, even before they got out of their police vehicle.
During closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury, “We know the defendant contemplated the decision to shoot Laquan before he even got out of his vehicle. … And he never adjusted that mindset.”
Van Dyke’s defense attorney, Daniel Herbert, sought to have the jury discount the video of the shooting. It was that video, obtained by independent journalists that contradicted written reports resulting in the charge and arrest of Van Dyke, along with the firing of the Superintendent of Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney losing re-election.
Originally charged with first-degree murder, the jury was given an instruction that they could find guilt for second-degree murder. And, they did. The jury consisted of eight women and four men. Seven are White, one Black, three Latinxs, and one Asian. They began deliberations yesterday afternoon.
Van Dyke’s bond was revoked and he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. His sentencing is scheduled for October 31, 2018.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports interviewing jurors after the verdict.
“Jurors repeatedly described feeling that Van Dyke’s testimony as “rehearsed.”
There appears to have been some initial disagreement between jurors on whether to convict on first-degree and second-degree murder, but jurors resolved it Friday morning, the woman said.”
The several jurors who gave media an interview did not give their names. One said that acquittal was never on the table but the main debate was whether to convict on first or second degree murder.