Jason Van Dyke Sentenced To Less Than 7 Years For Murder of Laquan McDonald; 3 Officers Acquitted In Cover-up
By Michael Walters
21 January 2019
On Friday Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to less than seven years (81 months) in prison, plus two years’ probation for the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The sentence was handed down by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan one day after three CPD officers were found not guilty of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in covering up the murder of the African-American teen. Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to be convicted of murder during an on-duty assault in more than half a century.
Van Dyke was convicted in October 2018 by a jury of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every bullet Van Dyke unloaded into McDonald’s body over a 15-second period. Van Dyke could have received up to 20 years for second degree murder and between six and 30 years for each count of aggravated battery. If he was given the full sentence, he could have been in prison for the rest of his life. The minimal sentence can only be understood as the action of a ruling class that needed to sentence Van Dyke to avoid an eruption of social anger but did not want to set a precedent that might limit the ability of the police to act with the utmost violence.
The special prosecutor, Joseph McMahon, requested in his closing argument that Van Dyke receive 18 to 20 years. The defense argued that the case “screamed out for probation” due to the officer’s “clean” past and unlikeliness to reoffend. Including the time already served, and an early release he would not have received under aggravated battery, Van Dyke will likely spend less time in prison than it would have taken McDonald to go through high school.
Judge Gaughan overrode the jury’s conviction of murder and battery by electing to only sentence on the second-degree murder, reasoning that murder charge was the most serious conviction since the death was the result of the battery. Further, he stated that if he were to sentence on the aggravated battery charges, he would have combined the 16 convictions into one because they were all part of one act. Even if one accepts the reasoning that Van Dyke should only have been sentenced on murder, the 6.75-year sentence stands in contrast to the will of the jury.
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. Read the rest of this entry
17-year old Laquan McDonald was killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Van Dyke was not arrested until a judge set a date for the release of dash cam video. That was in November 2015.
Van Dyke’s murder trial began the first week of September 2018 with jury selection. Twelve jurors and 5 alternatives have been selected. The jury consists of one Black woman, and two Blacks as alternatives.
On Thursday, September 20, 2018, the prosecution rested its case. Van Dyke’s defense will now be presented to the jury.
Following the trial has been difficult for me due to personal matters, but I do plan on blogging the verdict. Meanwhile, I have copied the post originally published in November 2015 because it contains background on what happened, including that without the intervention of Brandon Smith, an independent journalist, Van Dyke might not have been charged.
Originally published in November 2015.
It’s not what Laquan did or did not do. Rather, it is what the Chicago Police Department did after officer Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan.
Brandon Smith’s introduction on The Guardian, says that he is a Chicago-based independent journalist who, with the help of whistleblowers and the Freedom of Information Act, has reported on civil rights abuses, privatization of public assets, digital privacy concerns and pollution of land and water.”
“Independent journalist.” I like that title because it reflects a form of journalism that has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. It would be correct to replace “independent” with “investigative” in this matter, because what Brandon Smith did goes beyond reporting. Without the backing of a publication to finance his endeavors, Brandon Smith did not have to proceed at his own costs. Brandon worked along with another independent journalist, Jamie Kalven, and University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. Because they are independent journalists, they aren’t often issued press credentials to attend press conferences and such. In fact, he was not allowed to attend the press conference that discussed the release of video that came about due to his persistence and good work.
Had they not been independent and determined, we would not have the video of the killing of Laquan McDonald. Without the release of the video, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke would still be on paid desk duty; and his fictionalized report of what happened would be business as usual in cover-ups. Read the rest of this entry
On a sunny weekend in 2016, racial tensions flared when two white off-duty cops fatally shot an armed black man in Mount Greenwood.
Joshua Beal, 25, of Indianapolis, had been in a funeral procession in the predominantly white neighborhood on the Far Southwest Side. The death of Beal, who was serving as a pallbearer for his cousin, prompted African-Americans to march in the neighborhood, yelling, “CPD, KKK!”
In response, Mount Greenwood residents took to the streets to show their support for the police and their neighborhood, a stronghold of white city workers. A white off-duty firefighter who was attacked during the incident posted the message “Mount Greenwood Strong” on his Facebook page.
Now, nearly a year and a half later, three city agencies reviewing the chaotic circumstances leading to Beal’s death say they’re continuing to investigate and won’t talk about the case.
But, according to dozens of pages of detectives’ reports and photos that the Chicago Sun-Times obtained only after suing the city to get them:
• A woman taking a smoking break from her bartender’s job said she heard a white driver shout the N-word to African-Americans in the funeral procession. That prompted them to stop, and she said she saw a black man then punch the unidentified white driver.
It was always my understanding that funeral processions have the right-of-way, and even upon vehicles leaving a cemetery, that respect should be shown because the people just said their last good-bye to someone they will never see again.
On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Chicago remembers his time spent in our city, expanding his civil rights movement from the South.
King brought his movement for equal rights north to Chicago in 1966, targeting the city’s stark segregation. Here, hundreds marched with him to challenge the policies that maintained the rigidly white ethnic enclave, Marquette Park.
“I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hateful as I’ve seen here,” King said of Chicago.
In this gallery of Chicago Sun-Times and AP archival photos, King is seen energizing crowds and facing violent attacks as he led the march in Marquette Park. The photos, from 1966, show him renovating deteriorating buildings and confronting Mayor Richard J. Daley.
On July 28, 2016, Chicago police officers tried to pull over a Jaguar that had been reported stolen. Body cam video released by the now defunct Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) shows that the Jaguar took off. Officers fired at the moving vehicle, which subsequently crashed. Paul O’Neal left the vehicle running. Officers chased behind him, with officer Jose Diaz shooting Paul in the back, killing him.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson took the three officers off the street.
“After a thorough review of the evidence, including dashboard and body camera recordings, witness interviews, and physical evidence, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney determined that criminal charges against the officers are not appropriate in this case,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a statement on Friday.
“You f—-ing shoot at us?” one officer asks the prone O’Neal as he is handcuffed in the video released by IPRA. Another officer, searching the teen’s backpack, asks: “Have you got anything on you?”
The state’s attorney’s office said that two of the officers “were places in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm” when O’Neal drove toward them. The third officer who shot “reasonably believed that O’Neal had fired at the police, although in fact those shots were fired by fellow officers.”
What is clear is that Paul O’Neal was killed in a retaliatory act and not because any officer was in fear of their life. Read the rest of this entry
In August, Chicago police officer Marco Proano was found guilty on two felony federal charges of violating victim’s civil rights. I reported the trial at this link.
Proano’s sentencing took place on November 20, 2017. He was looking at 10 years. Prosecutors asked the judge for 8 years. On Monday, federal district court Judge Feinerman sentenced the 42-year old Proano to 5 years in prison for his use of unreasonable force in an on-duty shooting that wounded two teenagers four years ago.
Officer Marco Proano fired 16 shots in nine seconds at a stolen Toyota Avalon full of teenagers in Chicago on December 2013. The shooting was caught on camera, and jurors took less than four hours to find him guilty in August of two civil rights violations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgia Alexakis argued that Proano “could have killed each and every one of those passengers.” Read the rest of this entry
“Shut up, slave.” “”Your children are disposable vermin!” “Get on all fours! Do not walk off on two legs!” That and more was said by 24-year old William Boucher back on June 6, 2017 in an altercation in a downtown Chicago Starbucks.
Boucher was all talk while inside the Starbucks but after he walked outside, he started actions that included spitting on a Black man. As Boucher walked further down the street, he sucker punched an innocent 59-year old Black man who was walking down the sidewalk. The man was taken to the hospital for injury to his eye.
Boucher got his wish for a Black man to “get on all fours” because one straddled Boucher, holding him down while they waited for the police.
The altercation allegedly started in Starbucks when someone spilled coffee on Boucher’s pants. Video that was captured did not start until Boucher began his racial rant. Read the rest of this entry
Yet, Chicago is 8th in the highest murder rate per capita. St. Louis comes in first, followed by Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Newark, NJ, and Memphis, TN. Trump’s focus on Chicago is — well — out of focus.
If Trump is serious about reducing violence, he should consider tightening the nation’s gun laws.
Just a month after Donald Trump proposed sending the feds to fix Chicago’s “horrible carnage,” he took to Twitter again to slam the Windy City, saying they “need help.”
“Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago,” Trump said in his tweet. “Chicago needs help!”
Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago. What is going on there – totally out of control. Chicago needs help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
Once again, it seems that Trump is making a knee-jerk response to media reporting and capitalizing on violence that has plagued Chicago in recent years. His tweet comes on the same day that The Chicago Tribune reported that homicides in the city are already outpacing last year’s numbers.
Trump’s post is only the latest sign that…
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The United States Department of Justice completed a probe of the Chicago Police. Its investigation was conducted over a period of 13 months. They found that the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) used biased techniques to investigate officers and a consistent unwillingness to probe or dispute officers’ statements.
The Chicago police force is one of the nation’s largest, with 12,000 officers.
The DOJ also found that the police received insufficient training in de-escalation techniques and poor training on all levels.
The investigation also found Constitutional violations, and violations of federal law by officers in the use of force, racial disparities and other systemic problems.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports;
“The Justice Department and City Hall have hammered out a pact, called a “statement of agreement,” which will detail remedies the city has already or will be taking to address problems that have ruptured relations between police and the people they serve, particularly minority communities.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be out of office on January 20, 2017, and wanted to complete DOJ investigations in Baltimore and Chicago before the new administration takes over. Read the rest of this entry
On September 28, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was in a Chicago suburb for a fund raising event. Demonstrators in Bolingbrook and on Chicago’s Northwest Side explain why they are for or against Donald Trump.
Before 18-year old Paul O’Neal was chased by Chicago police officers and killed by a gunshot in the back, there was another car chase on the East Coast.
It happened on May 11, 2016. The car chase lasted for about an hour and stretched from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. At times it exceeded 100 mph. The driver was 50-year old Richard Simone of Worchester, MA. He had warrants for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny, and failure to stop for officers. The failure to stop for officers charge was because 3 days before May 11, 2016, Richard Simone led the police on another chase and rammed his truck into an officer’s vehicle.
On May 11, 2016, Simone’s truck struck a police vehicle during the chase, and at one point, officers put out sticks causing Simone to hit a telephone pole. He drove down a dead-end street where he finally stopped. Richard got out of his truck with his hands up, and laid face down on the ground. Officers then proceeded to beat Richard. The chase was shown live by several news helicopters, including the beating. Read the rest of this entry
On July 28, 2016, 18-year old Paul O’Neal was fatally shot by Chicago police. The shooting is under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). Paul was shot in the back.
Yesterday, numerous videos were released to the public. There is no video of Paul being shot in the back because the body cam of the officer who fired the shot was not turned on.
Some are only looking at this from the side of Paul committing a crime, but there are two sides. Two wrongs never make a right.
Paul O’Neal was captured on video at a gas station in Bolingbrook, Illinois where 3 vehicles were stolen overnight. The vehicles were a 2009 Buick Enclave, a 2003 Honda Odyssey and a 2010 Nissan Rogue. Bolingbrook is a suburb of Chicago.
About 3 hours after the vehicles were stolen in Bolingbrook, a 2002 Jaguar XKR convertible was reported stolen. One of the other stolen cars seen at the gas station was recovered nearby.
At about 7:30 p.m. on July 28, 2016, Paul O’Neal is seen driving the Jaguar on the Southside of Chicago. Chicago police attempted to stop the Jaguar, but it hit a Chicago police SUV and a parked car while continuing to flee. Two officers opened fire while Paul was still in the Jaguar. Read the rest of this entry
article via clutchmagonline.com
The second annual “Daddy Daughter Dance” was held in Chicago over the weekend, and the event sponsored by the Chicago Police Department proved to be a success.
The event, which was held at the South Shore Cultural Center, matched up Chicago police officers with girls who don’t have fathers in their lives. Also in attendance were officers and their own daughters.
“After last year’s event, we had several officers and the young ladies that they escorted, they kept up with one another and it really bridged a gap,” said Sgt. Kimberly Woods. “It let the girls know that officers are just people too and we dance, and we dance funny like your dads do.”
The Chicago Police Department and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives planned the dance to encourage healthy relationships between daughters and their fathers.
Those sons of hippies. Those darn progressives. Those doggone believers in equality for all. Those idiots who live in a diverse area. Those morons who attend the diverse University of Illinois in Chicago. They came together by the thousands inside and outside of the U of I Pavilion causing Trump to cancel his rally.
Go Chicago! Go Chicago! Good Job!
Show America who the idiots and morons really are.
The city had resisted releasing the police shooting video of Cedrick Chatman for months.
Using Press This;
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Thursday ordered the public release of video footage that shows the 2013 fatal shooting by Chicago police of an unarmed 17-year-old African-American man.
The move by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman comes the day after attorneys for the city, who had vigorously fought for months to keep the footage private, dropped their objection to the video’s release.
The decision on the video, which is evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city and two police officers for the 2013 death of Cedrick Chatman, comes as the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are facing mounting criticism over the use of force by the city’s police.
The city has been embroiled in weeks of protests following the court-ordered release of police video in November that showed the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on the same day of the video’s release, 400 days after the incident.
After the McDonald video’s release, Emanuel said the city would strive for greater transparency as it tried to balance the public’s interest in disclosure with the importance of protecting the integrity of investigations. Read the rest of this entry
Chicago police superintendent fired by mayor amid outcry over video of shooting – The Washington Post
CHICAGO — The head of the Chicago Police Department has been fired amid widespread criticism over how authorities responded to the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer last year.
Hat tips to Roderick2012 and Gronda. Published by Press This
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said he formally asked Garry F. McCarthy, the Chicago police superintendent, for his resignation on Tuesday morning, a week after video footage of the shooting was released and the officer was charged with murder.
“He has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction,” Emanuel said. He added that while he is loyal to McCarthy, whom he praised for his leadership of the department, the needs of the city are more important.
Anger has erupted in Chicago since authorities released footage of Jason Van Dyke, a city police officer, shooting Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old, last year.[Officer Van Dyke posted bond and was released Monday] Emanuel said he began talking to McCarthy on Sunday, after several days of heated protests, about “the undeniable fact that the public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded.”
The end of McCarthy’s time atop the Chicago force marks a abrupt shift for a law enforcement officer who became nationally known as he worked in three of the country’s biggest police departments. When Emanuel announced McCarthy’s appointment in May 2011, he praised him as someone who proved “reducing crime and working closely with the community are not conflicting goals. ” Read the rest of this entry
The best to them!
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At a time when interactions between African-Americans and police are fraught with tension over allegations of excessive force by cops across the nation, a team of Chicago officers are making efforts to improve relations with youth on the city?s South Side, reportsThe Huffington Post.
The Englewood Police Youth Baseball League hopes the sport of baseball will help combat violence by uniting athletes in Englewood?one of the city?s most violent communities?with mentors from the police department, notes the report.
?Showing them that police are human, that we?re their friend, that they are safe around us. That?s an extension of being a police officer,? Angela Wormley, police officer and volunteer coach, told the news outlet.
The league launched in May as part of a partnership with Get In Chicago, a program that works to eliminate juvenile violence, and the community welfare organization Teamwork Englewood…
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