Saturday, 17 August, 2019

Chicago Ex-Cop Jason Van Dyke Sentenced In Laquan McDonald Murder

Jason Van Dyke sits in the courtroom during a hearing in his shooting case of Laquan Mc Donald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago Illinois U.S Judge Acquits Three Chicago Officers Accused Of Covering Up Laquan McDonald Shooting
Patty Aguilar | 19 January, 2019, 16:26

A U.S. judge has sentenced former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to almost seven years in prison over the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke, responsible for shooting McDonald 16 times October 20, 2014, was convicted of murder past year. "A year-and-a-half".

McDonald's family lamented that the penalty was too light. "This is a case about law and order (and) about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night". "To say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty", Hunter said.

Some experts believe Van Dyke, 40, could face as much as 96 years in prison, though debate in the legal community continues over the precise sentencing range.

Attorneys for the three men used the same strategy that the defense used at Van Dyke's trial by placing all the blame on McDonald.

Each of the defendants had their own attorney. Judge Vincent Gaughan's decision on that point will help determine the sentence. The defense seeks probation, a spokeswoman said. "He was happy about the prospect of life ahead of him" and someday being reunited with his wife and two daughters. "The case is straightforward, and it is concise", Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes told the judge during opening statements.

"Our goal was to find the truth, present the truth and ask for justice". Each count of aggravated battery carries a sentence of six to 30 years.

"I understand this sentence is not everything that the McDonald and the Hunter family wanted", McMahon said.

Local activist William Calloway encouraged black Chicagoans to vote in the upcoming election instead of taking to the streets in protest.

Van Dyke's father, Owen, pleaded with the court for a reduced sentence.

Allegations of racial bias were not a focus at Van Dyke's trial past year.

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Earlier in the day, several black motorists testified that he used a racial slur and excessive force during traffic stops in the years before the 2014 shooting.

Under cross-examination, though, Joy acknowledged that he did not allege Van Dyke used a slur in his first accounts of the stop.

Another witness, Ed Nance, struggled to maintain his composure as he looked across the room to identify Van Dyke. He testified that Van Dyke violently cuffed him and threw him face-down in a squad vehicle.

But Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson said in her ruling the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers engaged in a conspiracy to prevent a criminal investigation.

She looked up over her shoulder and addressed the judge directly: "His life is over". Please, please. He has paid the price already. "I beg for the least amount of time".

But this 81-month sentence - coming on the heels of the acquittal of three police officers charged with conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke by making false reports - seems like little more than a slap on the wrist.

The video sparked large protests and led to the ouster of Chicago's top police official and some department reforms. Van Dyke had claimed that McDonald had been swinging the folding knife in an "aggressive exaggerated manner", a claim that was supported by his fellow officers. She singled out how they preserved the graphic video at the heart of the case.

Dashcam video of the incident showed McDonald, who was high on the PCP drug at the time, refusing the officer's command to drop a knife as he walked down the street. On the footage, the teen is seen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots.

At around 10 p.m. on October 20, 2014, police were called to investigate reports that McDonald was wielding a knife and breaking into vehicles.

Days of protests erupted in the third-largest USA city when a dashboard camera video of the October 20, 2014, shooting was released more than a year later in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It was also thought to be a major factor in Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's decision not to seek a third term.

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