Former Chicago policeman Jason Van Dyke was sentenced Friday to nearly seven years to the murder of teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Cook County judge Vincent Gaughan said in his decision that he would judge Van Dyke to 81 months, which means that the former officer could be out after about four years of good behavior.
Judgment of the Court after the judges in October convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 1
Friday's hearing lawyers argued over a key issue that decided Van Dyke's fate: whether aggravated battery is a more serious belief than other degree murder. Van Dyke, 40, is in prison everywhere from probation to more than 96 years. His lawyers claimed that the official should only be convicted of second-degree murder conviction and deserving trial because he has no criminal offense tory. They also submitted approx. 200 letters from Van Dykes family and friends.
But prosecutors on Monday filed a document which made the case of the worsening battery pocket carrying a minimum sentence of six to 30 years in prison for each count.
Finally, Gaughan decided to only phrase Van Dyke on the second-degree murder charge.
The hearing also contained testimony from several witnesses. Most prosecutors witnesses were black men who claimed to be facing physical and verbal abuse in the Van Dyke hands and suffered from emotional trauma as a result. Almost all the prosecutions testified that they filed complaints about their incidents, but Van Dyke was never reprimanded.
Edward Nance, the fourth witness, claimed that Van Dyke dragged him over in 2007 and tried to open his door as he shouted at him. Nance said the official pulled him out of the car, dragged him to the squad and threw him face down on the car's floor while handcuffing and causing extreme pain that Nance eventually demanded surgery.
"I have constant pain every day," said Nance, speaking most of his testimony, refusing to look at Van Dyke. Nance eventually won $ 350,000 in a civil lawsuit against Van Dyke and another officer, but Van Dyke was never punished for the incident.
McDonald's Uncle, Rev. Martin Hunter, taking the stand in consultation to deliver a sacrificial impact statement he wrote through McDonald's eyes. The statement said McDonald could not speak with his own voice because of Van Dyke, "who decided he would be a judge, jury and executioner."
"In a short time in my life, I have worked hard to correct the mistakes that I had made," said the first-person statement in McDonald's perspective. "But in six seconds he took 16 shots and ended the possibility that this was happening forever."
The defense also presented several witnesses, including Van Dykes family members and officials who called him a family man and a hard worker. Former British police president Dean Angelo called the 40-year-old man a "big, gentle child."
Van Dykes 17-year-old daughter, Kaylee Van Dyke, also made a statement.
"Over the past three years, I've been bullied, teased, picked up, you're called. All because my dad did his job," said the teenager, according to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Andy Grimm, who was in the courtroom while audio and video were banned during the minor's testimony.
Judgment comes less than a day after three of Van Dyke's co-officers were acquitted on accusing the murder and embarrassed investigation. Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh were not found guilty of conspiracy on Thursday impediment to justice and official error. In that case, Judge Domenica Stephenson said that the three officers saw the shooting from a different perspective on the stage than what a disturbing video of the incident shows.
Dashcam video from that evening recorded Van Dyke shooting at McDonald, who had a 3-inch knife as he walked away from the officer. A judge forced the city to publicly release the video more than a year after the recording, bearing in mind Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who waited until after his re-election to release the footage. Emanuel, who was President Barack Obama's chief of staff, announced last year that he would not again run for mayor. Chicagoans believes that McDonald shoots one of the greatest spots on Emanuel's mayor heritage.
The video became an important evidence in Van Dyke's trial that challenged Chicagoans and constituted nationwide calls for justice.
Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer for 50 years to be convicted of murder for an on-duty shoot. His lawyers maintained that the officer was wrongly charged and that he acted lawfully when he killed McDonald because he feared for his life. During last year's attempts, Van Dyke expressed little regret. On Friday he gave his own statement.
"I prayed daily for the soul of Laquan McDonald," he said. "No one wants to take a person's life, even in defense of their own."
McDonald's family responded to Gaughan's discernment with disappointment.
"This sentence represents a second-class citizen's sentence," said Hunter, McDonald's uncle. The family said the sentence is a step back in the struggle for equality.
This article has been updated with details of Friday's hearing and about Van Dykes history.