Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke could serve as little as 3 1/2 years in prison for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald
Prosecutor requested a sentence of 18 to 20 years while Van Dyke’s attorney requested probation
Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke to 6 ¾ years but with good behavior he may serve only half of his sentence
Van Dyke was seen in court on Friday dressed in a yellow prison garb
On Friday, former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to 6 ¾ years in prison for murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Following a daylong hearing, Judge Vincent Gaughan convicted Van Dyke on second-degree murder. Gaughan said it was the more serious crime and the 16 counts of aggravated battery convictions — one for each bullet that Van Dyke fired at McDonald — should “merge” into it for sentencing purposes.
While the sentence of 6 ¾ years hardly seems like justice for the murder of a 17-year-old boy, the details get worse. Van Dyke could be released in as short as 3 1/2 years if he earns credit for good behavior while McDonald’s family will have to live with the loss of their loved one.
Van Dyke’s trial came with added anticipation after Judge Domenica Stephenson acquitted three other officers of all charges alleging them of conspiring together to shield the former officer of any scrutiny from McDonald’s murder.
Van Dyke stood in court dressed in yellow prison garb as he read a statement from a piece of paper. In the statement, Van Dyke says the McDonald shooting was the first time he had to use his weapon and went on to say he was “very proud of that fact.” Van Dyke claimed he “tried to make the right decision in a rapidly escalating, dangerous situation.”
The last thing I wanted to do was to shoot Laquan McDonald. I will live with this for the rest of my life.
While many will see Van Dyke’s sentence as a feeble attempt to give the McDonald family justice, it could have been much worse. Van Dyke’s attorney Darren O’Brien argued with the court the shooting “screamed out” for probation. Proving the claim of police taking care of their own with little regard for families of the victims of these wrongful police shootings, O’Brien presented 50 police commendations and 200 letters seeking leniency.
This was the only time he ever fired his weapon in the life of duty. What does that mean? That’s huge. It means whatever was going on in that street that night scared him more than anything else he ever saw.
Prosecutors requested an 18 to 20-year sentence for Van Dyke. Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said the shooting not only devastated the McDonald family and the City of Chicago, but the nation watched as a uniformed officer shot a teenager on video.
He has betrayed the public trust that we as a community give to law enforcement. Jason Van Dyke committed violent, serious crimes in his capacity as a police officer for the city of Chicago.
He betrayed his fellow police officers. His conduct was so egregious, so different from every other police officer at that scene. That is why we are here today.