The white former Chicago police officer responsible for the murder a Black teenager was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
Six years and nine months is what Jason Van Dyke received on Jan. 18 for the murder of 17-year-old #LaquanMcDonald, who he fatally shot 16 times as McDonald was walking away. The shooting took place in October 2014, when Van Dyke and other officers were responding to reports that McDonald was carrying a knife and breaking into cars on Chicago’s Southwest Side. During his trial, Van Dyke claimed he shot the boy out of fear for his life when he encountered the teen.
NBC News reports the jury found Van Dyke, 40, guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the death. Prosecutors were initially fighting for Van Dyke to receive a minimum of 18 years – the equivalent of six years served consecutively for each shot. A dash cam showed Van Dyke was actually moving closer to McDonald during the incident while the teen was moving away from officers.
Additionally, the court received several complaints about Van Dyke, who was known for abusing citizen’s civil rights during arrests throughout his career as an officer; Van Dyke was never disciplined despite having 20 complaints made against him. At the sentencing hearing, Rev. Martin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle, spoke on behalf of the family and read a letter that was written as if McDonald had penned it. “Please think about me and about my life when you sentence this person to prison,” Hunter read. “Why should this person be free, when I am dead forever?”
This is the first time in 50 years that a Chicago officer has been convicted of murder for an on-duty killing.