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Chicago officer founded guilty of murder in slaying of Laquan McDonald

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018|4:28 p.m.

CHICAGO– A white Chicago officer was founded guilty of second-degree murder Friday in the 2014 shooting of a black teen that was caught on shocking dashcam video that revealed him crumpling to the ground in a hail of 16 bullets as he ignored authorities.

The video, some of the most graphic cops footage to emerge in years, stoked outrage nationwide and put the country’s third-largest city at the center of the argument about cops misbehavior and use of force. The shooting likewise led to a federal inquiry and calls to reform the Chicago Police Department.

Jason Van Dyke, 40, was the very first Chicago officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting in about 50 years. He was nabbed moments after the decision read.

The second-degree verdict reflected the jury’s finding that Van Dyke thought his life was in threat however that the belief was unreasonable. The jury likewise had the choice of first degree-murder, which required finding that the shooting was unneeded and unreasonable. A first-degree conviction, with improvements for using a weapon, would have carried a necessary minimum of 45 years.

Second-degree murder normally brings a sentence of less than twenty years, particularly for someone with no criminal history. Probation is likewise an option. Van Dyke was likewise convicted of 16 counts of intensified battery– one for each bullet.

One legal expert predicted that Van Dyke will be sentenced to no more than 6 years overall. However since he’s an officer, it will be “hard time,” potentially spent in seclusion, stated Steve Greenberg, who has actually defended customers at more than 100 murder trials.

The teenager, Laquan McDonald, was bring a knife when Van Dyke fired at him on a poorly lit street where he was surrounded by other officers.

One of Chicago’s leading civil rights attorneys stated the conviction sends out a message to minority neighborhoods that the cops reforms that started after the video became public were not simply for show.

Andrew Stroth said an acquittal would have sent out the opposite message, rushing wish for modification.

“I believe Chicago would have emerged,” he said.

Defense attorney Dan Herbert called Van Dyke “a sacrificial lamb” provided by political and neighborhood leaders “to save themselves.” He said it was a “unfortunate day for law enforcement” since the decision tells officers they can not do their jobs.

“Police officers are going to become security personnel,” he stated.

A McDonald family spokesman thanked district attorneys for pursuing a case that, he stated, numerous black lawyers did not believe might be won.

“I can’t rejoice since this man is going to jail,” said McDonald’s uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter. “I saw his other half and daddy. His other half and child didn’t shoot. I might see the pain in these individuals. It bothered me that they couldn’t see the discomfort in us.”

The decision was the most recent chapter in a story that sped up soon after a judge purchased the release of the video in November 2015.

The 12-person jury consisted of just one African-American member, although blacks comprise one-third of Chicago’s population. The jury likewise had 7 whites, three Hispanics and one Asian-American.

Jurors stated they invested much of their deliberations talking about whether to found guilty on first-degree or second-degree murder, not an acquittal. They stated Van Dyke’s statement did not help him. One woman said he “messed up” and need to not have actually affirmed.

The jurors’ names were not made public during the trial and were not divulged Friday throughout interviews with press reporters at the courthouse.

One said Van Dyke needed to “consist of the circumstance, not intensify it.” He stated the jury decided on second-degree murder because Van Dyke thought he was experiencing a real danger.

On the night of the shooting, officers were waiting on someone with a stun weapon to use on the teenager when Van Dyke got here, according to statement and video. The video, played repeatedly at trial, revealed him shooting even after the 17-year-old lay motionless on the pavement.

Prosecutors and defense lawyer clashed over what the footage in fact showed.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Jody Gleason kept in mind that Van Dyke told investigators that McDonald raised the knife which McDonald tried to get up off the ground after being shot.

“None of that occurred,” she said. “You have actually seen it on video. He made it up.”

But Van Dyke and his lawyers preserved that the video did not inform the whole story.

His attorneys portrayed the officer as being frightened by the young man who he knew had currently punctured a tire of a team automobile with the knife. Van Dyke affirmed that the teen was advancing on him and ignoring his shouted orders to drop the knife.

Van Dyke conceded that he stepped toward McDonald and not away from the teenager, as Van Dyke had initially declared. However the officer kept the rest of his account.

“The video doesn’t show my viewpoint,” he stated.

The officer had been on the force for 13 years. Because time, he was the subject of at least 20 person grievances– eight of which supposed excessive force, according to a database that includes reports from 2002 to 2008 and 2011 until 2015.

Though he was never disciplined, a jury did award $350,000 to a male who filed an excessive-force suit against him. Van Dyke testified that McDonald was the first individual he ever shot.

To boost their contention that McDonald threatened, defense attorneys developed a case against the teenager, who had been a ward of the state for the majority of his life and wound up in juvenile detention after an arrest for cannabis ownership. They likewise indicated an autopsy that revealed he had the hallucinogen PCP in his system.

District attorneys worried that Van Dyke was the only officer ever to fire a shot at McDonald.

They called multiple officers who were there that night as they sought to chip away at the “blue wall of silence” long connected with the city’s police force and other law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Three officers, including Van Dyke’s partner that night have been charged with conspiring to cover and lie about what occurred to secure Van Dyke. They have all pleaded innocent.

Even before the trial, the case affected law enforcement in Chicago. The city’s authorities superintendent and the county’s top prosecutor both lost their tasks– one fired by the mayor and the other ousted by citizens. It likewise resulted in a Justice Department investigation that found a “pervasive cover-up culture” and prompted prepare for far-reaching police reforms.

A week before jury choice, Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed he would not look for a 3rd term, although his workplace firmly insisted the case had nothing to do with his choice. He faced criticism that he combated the release of the video until after his re-election in April 2015.

Ahead of the verdict, the city prepared for the possibility of the type of enormous 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 hardly ever raised at trial. Among the only circumstances was during opening statements, when unique prosecutor Joseph McMahon told the jurors that Van Dyke didn’t understand anything about McDonald’s past when he experienced him that night.

“What we do know, what he (Van Dyke) did see, was a black boy walking down the street … having the audacity to ignore the cops,” McMahon said.

Herbert countered, “Race had definitely nothing to do with this.”

3 Chicago police officers arraigned in Laquan McDonald case

Tuesday, June 27, 2017|12:34 p.m.

CHICAGO– 3 Chicago law enforcement officer have been indicted on felony charges declaring they conspired to cover up the deadly shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald by a white officer.

A Cook County special grand jury approved the three-count indictment Monday and the charges were filed Tuesday. Special district attorney Patricia Brown-Holmes announced the indictments Tuesday, stating the three officers “did more than simply comply with an unofficial code of silence.” She states “they lied” to prevent private investigators “from learning the fact.”

The three officers, Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh, were each accuseded of conspiracy, official misbehavior and obstruction of justice.

Video released in 2015 showed white officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Chicago authorities didn’t instantly respond to the charges.