Jason Van Dyke guilty of lesser murder charge in Laquan McDonald shooting

07 October, 2018, 08:15 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Van-Dyke

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder after killing LaQuan McDonald, 17.

At some point during the confrontation, Officer Van Dyke opened fire, shooting the boy 16 times.

The shooting triggered widespread protests in Chicago, a city already struggling with soaring murder rates. Before he got there, McDonald had reportedly swung his knife at one witness, who had called 911. He continued to be shot when he fell to the ground.

The verdict in Chicago is among the exceptions - and the second time in recent months that a jury has convicted a police officer in a controversial shooting. 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.

After less than two full days deliberating on three weeks of testimony, jurors returned Friday with 17 guilty verdicts and one acquittal.

One said Van Dyke needed to "contain the situation, not escalate it".

But the jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and other charges.

This Oct. 5, 2018 photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Chicago, Ill., shows Jason Van Dyke.

Activists in Chicago, including Jesse Jackson, took their protest to the streets.

Defense attorney Dan Herbert called Van Dyke "a sacrificial lamb" offered by political and community leaders "to save themselves".

James Thomas O'Donnell, a pharmacologist who testified in the trial, said that someone with as much of PCP in his system as McDonald had in his bloodstream could have a "feeling of omnipotence", according to The Associated Press.




Van Dyke, who was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, sat impassively in a dark suit - his shoulders slumped - as the verdicts were read in the high-profile case.

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.

But, in a move not uncommon at IL murder trials, Judge Vincent Gaughan told jurors before they began deliberating that they could consider the charge of second-degree murder.

"Laquan McDonald was never going to walk home that night", she said.

"I'm really happy", Curtis said, "I really felt like if they had returned a not-guilty verdict I would have burst into tears immediately".

Video of the shooting led protests, a Justice Department civil rights investigation, criticism of the city's mayor and eventually the ouster of the police superintendent.

In September, ahead of Mr Van Dyke's trial, Mayor Emanuel announced he would not run for re-election.

Schools and businesses braced for potential unrest, and people across the city paused in the middle of the day to listen for the jury's decision. He added: "It shows a perspective, but it's the wrong perspective".

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi declined to provide additional information and would not say whom the threats were targeting, or if the threats are related to those received by Van Dyke's daughter on Thursday.

"The Chicago Police Department is standing with an officer we think acted as an officer", he said.

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