On Friday, four years after the fatal officer-involved shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Jason Van Dyke – the Chicago police officer who pulled the trigger – has been found guilty in the crime.
According to CNN, ahead of the officer’s hearing, Van Dyke was facing two counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct, facing life in prison.
However, on Thursday, jurors were told they could also consider second-degree murder in the case, after hearing closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense.
While prosecutors argued Van Dyke showed no regard for the life of a young McDonald, as he told his partner in the incident, “I guess we’ll have to shoot him” at the time of the incident, Dyke, in his own testimony, said he thought the officers were under attack.
“His eyes were just bugging out of his head,” Van Dyke said of his encounter with McDonald, who was reportedly wielding a knife. “He waved the knife from his lower right side, upwards, across his body, towards my left shoulder,” Van Dyke said of the incident, as he recalled standing about 10 to 15 feet away from the victim before he opened fire.
However, despite the officer’s claim, video of the shooting sparked widespread protests, as the officer could be seen shooting McDonald 16 times, no more than six seconds after he got out of his squad car, as McDonald walked away.
But now, as a result of the trial, justice has been served. Though Van Dyke was found not guilty of official misconduct, he was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He is facing a minimum of 6 years in prison.
“This is historic for Chicago and historic for these kinds of police misconduct cases,” a rep for Rev. Jesse Jackson said, as Van Dyke’s conviction is the first of a Chicago police officer in half a century to be convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting. “The jury did what it could with the evidence that was presented to them. Jason Van Dyke is finally in custody and we are grateful. We don’t need Rambo cops on the street shooting kids.”