Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke Found Guilty in Murder of LaQuan McDonald


Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer in over thirty years to be charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality, per the Chicago Tribune.

They also said he had exaggerated McDonald's actions that night to justify the fatal shooting. The closely watched trial again highlighted the fraught relationship between this city's police force and its residents, particularly people of color, as well as questions here and nationwide about how officers use deadly force.

The 12-person jury included just one African-American member, although blacks make up one-third of Chicago's population. Dan Herbert, Van Dyke's defense attorney, suggested that police officers will look at the trial and hesitate to fire their weapons in potentially risky situations, saying: "It is a sad day for law enforcement". The video, played repeatedly at trial, shows Van Dyke opening firing. Van Dyke continues to shoot when the 17-year-old is lying in the street. But Mr. Greenberg said judges nearly always order defendants to serve such sentences simultaneously. "That video is indisputable, and if a jury doesn't see that... He made it up". Defense attorney Dan Herbert told the judge that Van Dyke's tardiness was because he was dealing with a threat to one of his daughters. The police department has recommended firing officers for lying about McDonald's death, and three current or former officers were indicted a year ago on charges of conspiring to cover up what happened.

The city erupted in protest after the video became public. He had been on the force for 13 years when the shooting happened. Van Dyke stood up from the defense table and then put his arms behind his back as two deputies led him away.

To boost their contention that McDonald was unsafe, defense attorneys built a case against the teenager, who had been a ward of the state for most of his life and wound up in juvenile detention after an arrest for marijuana possession in January 2014. He said it was a "sad day for law enforcement" because the verdict tells officers they can not do their jobs. An autopsy showed McDonald had a small amount of the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he died. Police officers worked to hide what happened on the scene, and in initial reports they stated that McDonald had lunged at them with his knife. When he set out on his own about eight years ago, he contracted with the police officer's union - a move that has led to a steady stream of cases defending police officers.

Mr Van Dyke pleaded not guilty, with his defence arguing that had the teenager dropped his weapon, the officer would not have opened fire.

Groups of demonstrators took to the streets for several hours after the verdict, chanting, "The people united will never be defeated", and "Sixteen shots and a cover up". Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the police superintendent and a Justice Department investigation found a "pervasive cover-up culture" in the Chicago Police Department, which is headed for federal reforms.

The city of Chicago had already reached a $5,000,000 (£3,810,000) civil settlement with the teenager's family. Another juror, a black woman, said race did not factor in their deliberations in the racially charged case.

"You heard what it was that he said, 'I guess we'll have to shoot him, '" Gleason said, referring to testimony about what Van Dyke told his partner before arriving at the scene.



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