Jury Finds Jason Van Dyke Guilty Of Murdering Laquan McDonald

Cheryl Sanders
October 6, 2018

The video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting the black teenager 16 times sparked a political crisis upon its release almost three years ago and gave rise to efforts to overhaul a police force with a long history of high-profile misconduct and failed attempts at reform.

Van Dyke, 40, was charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct and aggravated battery in the October 20, 2014, slaying of 17-year-old McDonald, who was shot 16 times.

Media captionDashcam footage shows the moment 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was fatally shot by police in Chicago What's the political fallout?

This Oct. 5, 2018 photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Chicago, Ill., shows Jason Van Dyke.

Rev. Marvin Hunter, the great uncle of Laquan McDonald, thanked activists, pastors, the jury, extended family and prosecutors involved in the case for their support over the past four years.

But Van Dyke and his attorneys maintained that the video didn't tell the whole story.

The jury is made up of one African-American woman, one Asian man, three Latino women, four white women and three white men.

However, police did not say if it's related to what happened to Van Dyke's children.


Jurors said they spent much of their deliberations discussing whether to convict on first-degree or second-degree murder, not an acquittal.

"His testimony wasn't credible to me", she said.

In the aftermath of McDonald's death, three other police officers - including Van Dyke's partner on the night - were charged previous year with attempting to cover up the shooting, to which they pleaded not guilty.

Officers had McDonald largely surrounded on a city street and were waiting for someone to arrive with a stun gun to use on the teenager when Van Dyke arrived, according to testimony and video.

The verdict is the latest chapter in a story that has made headlines since a judge ordered the release of squad auto video of the shooting in November 2015.

Both of Jason Van Dyke's daughters were threatened Thursday, prompting the officer to leave the courthouse. Dr. Laurence Miller said that when Van Dyke heard on his radio that McDonald had a knife and had punctured the tire of a squad vehicle, he told his partner: "Oh my God, we're going to have to shoot the guy".

Laquan McDonald's life was brief and grim, but his death has made him one of the most consequential figures in the history of the Chicago Police Department. "We need to make voting decisions to make sure no more black girls and boys die on behalf of police officers".

Jurors began deliberating Thursday afternoon.


Before announcing last month that he would not seek re-election, Emanuel previous year said the city would work toward a judicially enforced consent decree with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

But O'Donnell said that he had no information on whether Van Dyke knew if McDonald was high on PCP when he was shot. Though he was never disciplined, a jury did once award $350,000 to a man who filed an excessive force lawsuit against him.

Chance the Rapper was among the first people to tweet about the case.

In closing arguments, a prosecutor claimed Van Dyke showed no regard for the life of the black teenager while the defense portrayed him as a police veteran ensnared in a tragedy but not a murder.

The crowd frequently chanted "guilty" as they would stop at major intersections and in front of Trump Tower along the way north of the Chicago River on Michigan Ave.

Video of the shooting led protests, a Justice Department civil rights investigation, criticism of the city's mayor and eventually the ouster of the police superintendent. The anger at how the city had handled the Van Dyke case may be one reason why Mayor Rahm Emanuel abruptly decided not to seek a third term.

Ahead of the verdict, the city prepared for the possibility of the kind of massive protests that followed the release of the video in November 2015, with an extra 4,000 officers being put on the streets.

The issue of race permeated the case, though it was rarely raised at trial.


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