James Van Dyke Found Guilty Of Second Degree Murder In Laquan McDonald Shooting
A Chicago jury has found Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
The ruling happened Friday (Oct. 5) as demonstrator waited outside and McDonald’s family listened in the courtroom. Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery but found not guilty of official misconduct. The shooting drew public attention in 2016 after it was discovered that the Chicago Police Department along with embattled Mayor Rham Emanuel kept footage of the graphic shooting from the public. Emanuel released a statement about reform shortly after the verdict.
McDonald was accused of breaking into vehicles while holding a three-inch blade. While there were many officers at the scene, Van Dyke was the only officer who fired 16 shots at the teenager. USA Today notes he continued to fire his gun after the teen was laying on the ground. Van Dyke claimed he was fearful of his life while in contact with the teen but footage of the shooting never showed McDonald approaching the officer in a threatening manner.
“None of that happened!” prosecutor Jody Gleason said during the trial. “You’ve seen the videos. He made it up to justify his use of force.”
Van Dyke’s lead defense attorney Daniel Herbert claimed the victim was the “author and choreographer of this story” while painting him as a drugged teen with a checkered past.
Despite the verdict, Laquan’s family has asked for peace from the public. “We don’t want any violence before, during or after … the verdict in this trial,” Rev. Martin Hunter said on behalf of the family before the verdict was announced. “Give the judge a chance to do his job, give a jury a chance to do their job.”
Chicago natives like Vic Mensa have spoken out about the teen’s tragic murder. The rapper released “16 Shots” in 2016 to honor the teen.