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Jason Van Dyke conviction: Family of Laquan McDonald judges the sentence to white officer



Explosive video of a white Chicago officer shooting a black teenager 16 times in 2014, shocked consciences around the world. Graphic images of Laquan McDonald crumpling to the street, while bullets striking him touched expectations that officer could be sentenced to murder and pay a great price in jail.

But on Friday a sentence of less than seven years for Jason Van Dyke – and the ability to only earn half of it – led McDonald's family and at least one activist to ask for justice and the right message was sent to other officials.

McDonald's family complained that the punishment was too light. His great uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter, said the sentence reduced McDonald's life to "a second-class citizen" and "suggests to us that there are no laws on the books of a black man to whom a white man is bound to glory."

William Calloway, contributing to the legal battle that led to the release of the Dashcam video in 201

5, described the punishment as "a blow to the face and a blow to the wrist" for Van Dyke who was sentenced. for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery – one for each bullet fired at 17-year-old McDonald.

  Chicago Police Laquan McDonald
Rev. Marvin Hunter, Laquan McDonald's Uncle, talks to journalists at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago Friday, January 18, 2019.

Teresa Crawford / AP


His judgment came one day after another judge acquitted three officers accused of lying about the shooting to protect Van Dyke, who was probably the first Chicago officer ever found guilty of the shooting of a African American.

The sentence was less than half the punishment sought by prosecutors who asked for 18 to 20 years. But it went far beyond the request of defense lawyers who claimed that Van Dyke could be released on probation. The prison period was also a fraction of what Van Dyke could have faced if he were convicted of first-degree murder which had a mandatory minimum of 45 years in prison.

Defense Attorney Dan Herbert said that Van Dyke "really felt great" after learning his sentence. "He loved the prospect of life in front of him" and one day was reunited with his wife and two daughters.

In a brief account, Van Dyke recognized the teen's death and told the judge that "I as a godly man and father must live with this for the rest of my life."

On Friday, judge Vincent Gaughan called the case a "tragedy for both sides."


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