CHICAGO – When Jason Van Dyke, a former Chicago police officer, convicted in 2018 of murder Laquan McDonald, 17, several Chicagoans saw a promise of justice: Mr. Van Dyke would go to jail for shooting a Black teenager 16 times, an act that was captured on the dashboard camera and was widely viewed by the public.
Three years after a sentence of nearly seven years, Mr. Van Dyke, who was empty-handed, is expected to be released on bail in the coming days. Activists in Chicago have expressed outrage at the prospect of Van Dyke’s release and called on federal officials to file civil rights charges against him, citing his prison term. little more than a fair punishment for murder.
According to Illinois regulations, Mr. Van Dyke will be released soon. Activists have long criticized the original sentence – 81 months – as too lenient.
However, McDonald’s great-uncle Father Marvin Hunter, who acted as a spokesman for the family, said he had no plans to participate in a planned protest Thursday or protest. the release of Mr. Van Dyke.
“Justice, in our sight, is being condemned,” he said. “It won’t benefit anyone in this country if Jason Van Dyke goes back to prison and gets 100 years or 1,000 years.”
The October 2014 killing of McDonald’s brought into focus police misconduct against Black Chicagoans, leading to changes to the Police Department – officers today. wear body camera while on duty – and force its general manager out of his job. The aftermath of the video, released 13 months after the murder and only after the order of the judgewas considered a factor in Rahm Emanuel’s decision, then mayor of Chicago, not to seek a third term.
Mr. Emanuel, now the US ambassador to Japan, has faced questions about his handling of the case during confirmation hearing last year.
As questions about Van Dyke’s release grew, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was elected in 2019, defended his record on policy issues while acknowledging the continued impact of the case. . At a press conference this week, she described trying to protect her daughter from watching the video of the shooting after it was released in 2015.
“It was a very difficult and very difficult time in our city,” Ms. Lightfoot said. “And I think a lot of people carry the trauma of that moment and others like that with them to this day.”
After Mr. McDonald was murdered, before becoming mayor, Mrs. Lightfoot led a council that found a pattern of systemic racism in the Chicago Police Department. She said there have been many improvements since then, including in police training and supervision, although she acknowledged that more needs to be done.
“There have been some changes – still not enough,” she said. “Not enough by any stretch of the imagination.”
Van Dyke, the first Chicago police officer to be convicted of a homicide while on duty in nearly 50 years, was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 more aggravated firearm counts, one count. for every bullet he fires. Prosecutors demanded a sentence of at least 18 years in prison, but Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced him to less than half that amount.
Judge Gaughan convicted Mr. Van Dyke only of murder; a penalty for a more severe battery count could lead to a much longer prison sentence.
William Calloway, a community organizer who urged the release of the video of McDonald’s killing in 2015, described the response to the shooting and conviction as a pivotal moment for Chicago.
Mr Calloway said: “We ended up holding a police officer accountable. “The justice system did not give the punishment commensurate with his crimes, but a fair sentence was given for the murder, so it gives us a lot of hope to keep fighting. ”
Mr. McDonald was shot after Chicago officers were summoned to the Southwest District of the city to investigate reports of a person with a knife attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers followed McDonald for several blocks, and at one point asked for an officer with a Taser to be dispatched to the scene. Not long after, Mr. Van Dyke arrived at the scene and opened fire as Mr. McDonald appeared to move away from the officers.
Mr. Calloway and other activists and family members – including Mr. McDonald’s Tracie Hunter – were scheduled to gather Thursday afternoon outside federal court in Chicago to reiterate the petition. Federal civil rights investigation into the death of Mr. McDonald.
Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois released a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Tuesday, asking him to update the investigation the Justice Department began in 2015. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the status of the investigation.
Kim Garecht, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, confirmed this week that Van Dyke was in custody, but she would not provide information on his release date.
“For safety and security purposes, the department cannot release any information regarding his current location or pending release from IDOC custody,” she said in a statement sent to the court. by email.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/us/chicago-police-van-dyke-laquan-mcdonald.html Chicago officer who killed Laquan McDonald will be released from prison soon