Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Jury Finds Jason Van Dyke Guilty Of Murdering Laquan McDonald

Jason Van Dyke en route to the courthouse Getty Images
Lisa Bryan | 07 October, 2018, 08:16

Van Dyke, 40, was charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the October 20, 2014, slaying of 17-year-old McDonald, who was shot 16 times. At one point, he sipped water from a bottle.

Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct. He left the courtroom with an officer. Jurors were told Thursday they had the option of convicting Van Dyke of second-degree murder, which is probationable.

The jury, which deliberated for about seven hours total on Thursday and Friday, is comprised of eight men and four women.

'This is a victory for America, ' said Laquan's great-uncle and family spokesman Marvin Hunter. The defense built their counterargument around the video not being enough evidence to accurately depict the scenario for Van Dyke. It is extremely rare for police officers to be tried and convicted of murder for shootings that occurred while they were on duty.

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

"None of that happened", she said.

In the aftermath of McDonald's death, three other police officers - including Van Dyke's partner on the night - were charged a year ago with attempting to cover up the shooting, to which they pleaded not guilty.

Each count of aggravated battery carries a mandatory minimum six years and a maximum of 30 years in prison.

But activist Robinson says the recent verdict sends a message to police and others in power. "Today our Justice system fulfilled its obligation to justice for all".

Prosecutors and defense attorneys clashed over what the footage actually proved.

"We still have a lot more work to do", Carruthers said.

It makes ideal sense that Daniel Herbert should specialize in representing police officers in everything from civil rights lawsuits to divorce cases, and for arrests for crimes ranging from drunken driving to murder. The city's police superintendent and the county's top prosecutor both lost their jobs - one fired by the mayor and the other ousted by voters.

Even before the trial, the case had already had an impact on law enforcement in Chicago.


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.

"The Chicago Police Department has a comprehensive operating plan to ensure public safety in all of our neighborhoods while simultaneously protecting the rights of peaceful demonstrations", police said.

Ahead of the verdict, the city had prepared for the possibility of the kind of massive protests that followed the release of the video in November 2015, with an extra 4,000 officers being put on the streets.

The verdict is the latest chapter in a story that has made headlines since a judge ordered the release of squad vehicle video of the shooting in November 2015.

Mr Van Dyke was arrested in 2015 after dashcam footage appeared to show him fatally shooting Mr McDonald as he moved away from officers, contradicting official accounts. As Van Dyke arrived, police had the 17-year-old mostly surrounded on a city street.

"Those in power know there will be consequences for not valuing black lives".

Jurors reached a verdict Friday afternoon declaring Van Dyke guilty of killing black teenager LaQuan McDonald.

His attorneys had portrayed Van Dyke as being "scared' by the young man who he knew had already punctured a tire of a squad auto with the knife".

Several cases in the past few years - including the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; Tamir Rice in Cleveland; and Freddie Gray in Baltimore - have ended in disappointment for many in the black community, as white officers have gone unpunished in their deaths.

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

"This was not a first-degree murder", Miller said.

"It's a tragedy that could have been prevented with one simple step", he said. They said Van Dyke's testimony did not help him.

Standing about 10 to 15 feet away, McDonald "turned his torso towards me", the officer testified. Jurors were told only that Walsh was testifying under "use immunity", meaning his testimony can't be used against him as long as he was truthful, but were never told about the allegations he faces.

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