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.
The family of Walter Scott has expressed forgiveness, but said that they are glad to see Michael Slager held accountable. Walter was killed in April 2015.
The State charged North Charleston police officer Michael Slager with murder or voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man. Walter Scott was shot in the back 5 times.
Slager said in his report that Walter took his taser from him, giving him justification to use deadly force. However, a by-stander’s video was released shortly after the deadly encounter that shows Slager unholstered his weapon and fire as Walter ran away. The video also shows that Slager walked back and retrieved his taser, which was dropped to the ground before Walter ran. Slager placed his taser next to Walter’s dead body. After the release of the video, Slager’s attorney then withdrew his representation and Slager was terminated from his job and charged with murder. Read the rest of this entry
On November 2, 2015, 6-year old Jeremy Mardis was in the car with his dad, Christopher Few, when Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse, Jr. opened fire, seriously wounding Christopher and killing Jeremy.
Stafford and Greenhouse, Jr. were charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree murder.
Stafford’s trial was in March 2017, in Marksville, Louisiana. We followed the trial here.
The officers, admitting that they did not see a weapon, alleged that Christopher backed up his vehicle and tried running them over. A ballistic expert at trial testified that all shots were fired to the side of the vehicle, and cars do not run sideways. Additionally, body cam footage showed that before the shooting, Christopher had both hands raised outside of his car window.
Derrick Stafford, 33, was found guilty of attempted manslaughter and manslaughter. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison with credit for time served since 11/3/2015. 20 years of his sentence has to be served without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Read the rest of this entry
On December 15, 2016, a jury in Dylann Roof’s federal trial deliberated less than 2 hours, and convicted him on all counts of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and weapons charges. This blog followed the trial.
The same jury panel of nine Whites people and three Blacks reconvened today to decide whether Roof is sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
Originally scheduled to begin on January 3, 2017, Dylann Roof asked that his sentencing trial be delayed for a day. His reason was because he spent the weekend undergoing a competency evaluation. Federal District Court Judge Gergel has now, twice, found Roof competent to represent himself.
Roof’s competency took focus in his opening statement today when he told the jury;
“The point is I’m not going to lie to you,” Roof said. “There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically.”
Roof also made a statement that he felt betrayed. Coupled with things that he wrote in his journal, it paints the idea that Roof’s desire to murder Blacks was influenced by other White Supremacists who he assumed would do the same. Read the rest of this entry
Some of you might remember this case that we originally reported in June 2015.
To recap, Phillip Seidle was a 22 year veteran of New Jersey’s Neptune Township Police department. On June 16, 2015, he chased his ex-wife as she was driving. The couple has 9 children ranging from ages 7 to 24, but the 7-year old daughter was the only child in the car with Phillip. He rammed his wife’s car causing her to crash into another vehicle.
Phillip Seidle got out of his car, drew his 40 caliber Glock service pistol, and fired several shots into the side of his ex-wife’s car. He then positioned himself in front of his ex-wife’s car and fired several more shots through the windshield. Tamara died. The couple had been divorced for 3 weeks.
Dash Cam Video
On September 9, 2016, the United States Department of Justice announced that Reynoldsburg Police Officer Shane M. Mauger, 42, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 33 months in prison for using his position as a police officer to deprive people of their civil rights by falsifying search warrant affidavits and unlawfully seizing money and property during drug trafficking investigations.
An undercover officer, Tye Downard, was implicated in the case but committed suicide after he was arrested. A third officer connected to the case was suspended earlier this year.
Mauger agreed to plead guilty to one count of federal program theft, and conspiracy to deprive persons of their civil rights. Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In addition to the 33 month prison sentence, Federal Judge Marbley also ordered Mauger to remain under court supervision for 2 years after he completes his prison sentence, and perform 4 hours of community service per week while under court supervision. Read the rest of this entry
Robert Bates, 74 years old, was a Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy when he was part of a sting operation. Bates fatally shot unarmed Eric Harris, and said that he mistook his gun for his taser. Eric was restrained when Bates shot him.
A jury has found Bates guilty of second-degree manslaughter. The jury recommended the maximum sentence of 4 years in prison. Bates wife has stated that because of his age and health, her husband is likely to die in prison.
(Editorial opinion: The same conditions applied to Bates when he went on the sting operation with a loaded gun. Bates could not distinguish where he carried his gun from where he carried his taser, nor that it was unnecessary to employ a taser upon a physically restrained suspect. He should not have been working in that capacity.)
After sentencing, Bates was escorted to the jail, and is expected to be transferred to a state prison next week.
The shooting was captured on video and lead to investigations about pay to play, questions about training standards for volunteer deputies, and favoritism. A review found an internal memo questioning Bates’ qualifications as a volunteer deputy and showed that Bates, a close friend of the sheriff’s, had donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment to the sheriff’s office.
A grand jury also investigated and indicted the longtime sheriff, Stanley Glanz, in September 2015, accusing him of failing to release a 2009 memo. He resigned on Nov. 1 2015.
Considering the discoveries and reforms, Eric Harris’ death was not in vain.
Peter Liang is the former New York rookie cop who killed Akai Gurley in a stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Akai was unarmed. He was doing no wrong; committing no crime.
On February 11, 2016, a jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Liang of manslaughter. He faced a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
At his sentencing hearing, Liang apologized to Akai’s girlfriend who is the mother of Akai’s daughter, saying, “I’m not a man of many words. The shot was an accident.”
Today, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the death of 28-year-old dad Akai Gurley — after reducing the charge against the cop. Read the rest of this entry
In summary, on August 7, 2014, Ted Wafer was found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and unlawful use of a weapon in the killing of 19-year old Renisha McBride. For more background information, please see our archives of posts about the case and trial.
Wafer is serving his sentence in the Alger Correctional Facility in Munising in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for the murder count and 7-15 years for the manslaughter charge. He also received a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence on a felony firearm charge.
At his sentence hearing, Wafer’s attorney argued that he should only be sentenced to 10 years.
Detroit News reports that on April 6, 2016, a three-judge panel of the court ruled that Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway erred in ruling she could not “go below the (sentencing) guidelines” when she sentenced Theodore Wafer in August 2014.
“Because the trial court’s compulsory adherence to the guidelines range was erroneous, in keeping with (case law) we remand for … proceedings,” according to the opinion by judges Cynthia Stephens, Joel Hoekstra and Deborah Servitto.
The court upheld Wafer’s conviction. Read the rest of this entry
Caterpillars, moths, butterflies, a certain roach, and all creatures great and small,
Thanks to all of our subscribed followers and participants. Currently, We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident has two award nominations. They require some work to accept and although I started on accepting one, I have not been able to complete it. For those who nominated us, please accept my apologies for the delay.
There’s a lot happening, and rather than write separate posts, here’s some snippets with links to news sources. Feel free to add to the news in the comment section.
Brussel’s Terrorist Attack
Our heart-felt condolences to the victims of the Brussel’s attack, and best wishes for the recovery of the injured.
Brothers Brahim and Khalid El Bakraoui have been identified as two of the suicide bombers in attacks at an airport and on a metro train Tuesday that left 31 people dead and 260 injured. The LA Times has more on the situation in addition to updates.
Convicted of Manslaughter, Prosecutor Does Not Want Former Cop to Serve Time In Prison
Last month, a jury convicted former New York police officer Peter Lang of manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley. Today, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson told the judge that he does not want Lang to serve time in prison. Thompson recommended that the judge sentence Liang to serve five years’ probation, six months of home confinement and 500 hours of community service. Akai’s family is outraged with the prosecutor’s recommendation. ABC News has more on this story. Read the rest of this entry
I’m a bit late with this story. I was not going to blog about it, but last night a dear friend told me that I had to. He said that I needed to express my opinion about how cities are placed in conditions of oppression, and the subject police officer in this case is a perfect example.
William Melendez was a police officer for the City of Detroit from 1993 to 2009. He received more civilian complaints than any other officer in the department. He was nicknamed “Robocop” like the movie character, purportedly because of his merciless violence against criminals. Melendez was accused of planting evidence, wrongfully killing civilians, falsifying police reports, and conducting illegal arrests.
Melendez has been a named defendant in at least 12 federal lawsuits. Some suits were settled out of court. Others were dismissed. Three years into the Detroit police force, Melendez and his partner fatally shot Lou Adkins. Witnesses testified that Adkins was shot 11 times while on the ground. The case settled for $1.05 million.
Melendez was also indicted by a federal grand jury for civil rights violations. Among other things, Melendez was accused of stealing guns, money, and drugs from suspects, and planting weapons. During his trial, many of the government’s witnesses had criminal records. The jury did not believe their testimony and Melendez was acquitted. Read the rest of this entry
The man who was found guilty on three counts of attempted 2nd degree murder, firing a missile, and 1st degree murder, for killing 17-year old, unarmed Jordan Davis, has been sentenced.
Michael Dunn will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole, plus 105 years.
Dunn gave a half-ass apology, stating;
“I want the Davis family to know I truly regret what happened. I’m sorry for their loss,” If I could roll back time and do things differently, I would. I was in fear for my life and I did what I thought I had to do. Still, I am mortified I took a life, whether it was justified or not.”
As soon as a video of the sentencing hearing is available, I’ll update here.
This is the post I promised. The case saddens me, while at the same time I was excited. One reason I was excited is because justice was administered by the federal district court where I live. Another reason is that is shows that in some cases, federal investigators turn over every rock to find evidence, and sniff out every witness, even if it takes years — in this case, 4 years.
In August 2010, a search warrant was executed for a home located in Saint Anne, Illinois. The person (who investigators called “A”) admitted that he viewed and traded child pornography over the internet. He used various methods to trade the pornography, including P2P networks, Yahoo Messenger, and Skype. In September 2010 during a follow-up interview, the person identified the user names of individuals in whom he had traded child pornography.
Two usernames were for one individual who was identified as Greg Pyle. Greg Pyle sent child pornography to “A”. Greg told “A” that a boy in the porn photos and videos was a relative. “A’s” hard drive was examined and investigators found that Greg Pyle also exchanged child pornography with others on the internet. Google cooperated in the investigation to verify information. Oops!! Read the rest of this entry
Ted Wafer shot and killed 19-year old Renisha McBride. A jury found Wafer guilty of 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, and unlawful use of a weapon. He is due for sentencing next week. Wayne County prosecutors, and defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter, have filed their pleadings.
Prosecutors are asking that Judge Hathaway use sentencing guidelines. Wafer stands to be sentenced between 15 and 25 years in prison that would be in addition to an automatic 2 year sentence for unlawful use of a gun. Prosecutors are asking that Wafer be sentenced to at least 17 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry
A juror in the Ted Wafer murder trial spoke to the Free Press on the condition of anonymity. Ted Wafer was convicted of 2nd degree murder for killing Renisha McBride. Renisha had been in a car accident, was intoxicated, and knocked on Wafer’s door. He opened his door and shot through his screen door with a shotgun, killing the 19-year old.
The juror who interviewed with Free Press said that Wafer’s conflicting statements ultimately helped the jury reach its verdict. The jury was made up of 7 men and 5 women. When they went into deliberations, they took an anonymous vote. That vote was that Wafer was guilty, but they still had to decide whether to convict on second-degree murder or a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. The juror said that their decision hinged on the evidence. Read the rest of this entry
We have all seen the headlines, “Fla. Mom gets 20 years for warning shot”. We have all heard some of the stories trying to tie this long sentence to race. What most don’t know is the history behind what happened. I’m not talking about what happened to Ms. Alexander but the history behind the sentencing. What most fail to realize is that it wasn’t the crime she was found guilty of, it wasn’t her race and it had nothing to do with a warning shot. It has everything to do with a law.
Since the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the public has focused largely on Florida’s stand your ground (SYG) law. While many consider this to be an unjust and vague law, to me there is a more unjust law on the books and one that existed before Florida’s SYG law.
Back in the late 90’s there was a surge of violent felonies in Florida in which a gun was used. At the time, Florida had a mandatory sentence of 3 years when a gun was used in a violent felony. Jeb Bush, while running for governor, came up with and ran a campaign platform for the 10-20-Life law. When he was elected in 1999, the State Legislature passed Bush’s proposal and the law went into effect on July 1, 1999. In 2000 it was expanded to cover 16 and 17 year old’s who fire a gun and have prior criminal records. Read the rest of this entry
Her name is Alysa Bobbitt. She was 5-years old and lived in Shady Cove, Oregon. On June 27, 2013, Alysa and her mom were visiting Karen Hancock in a Grants Pass apartment. Read the rest of this entry
It’s interesting that Angela Corey has stated that people don’t know all the facts in Marissa Alexander’s case. Regardless, the sentencing is outrageous. IMHO, Corey is planning to seek three sentences for Alexander to form a basis for requesting the same for Michael Dunn’s three 2nd degree attempted murder convictions. The difference however, as I see it, is that while Dunn was attempting to kill, he did in fact actually kill Jordan Davis in the process. As we watch this play out in Florida, it is actually impugning America’s justice system.
Clearly, the process needs to be re-examined…
Past studies have found that the notorious Stand Your Ground laws that authorize deadly force in self-defense exacerbate racial disparities. Among all cases, the Urban Institute has found that white-on-black homicides are 354 percent more likely to be found justified than white-on-white homicides in states with Stand Your Ground laws.
As Marissa Alexander is facing 60 years in prison in a case in which she unsuccessfully invoked the defense for firing a warning shot during a dispute with her abusive boyfriend, MSNBC looked at racial disparities among women, albeit those who, unlike Alexander, purportedly killed a man in self-defense. While white women with black victims were found justified 13.5 percent of the time, blacks who kill whites are found justified just 2.9 percent of the time, and even whites who kill whites are found justified…
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