By Nicole Anderson
On Oct. 20, 2014, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times in Chicago’s neighborhood of Archer Heights by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Chicago police arrived to the scene before the shooting because McDonald had been allegedly breaking into vehicles and armed himself with a knife, according to authorities. McDonald was pronounced dead at Mt. Sinai Hospital that evening.
13 months later, on Nov. 19, 2015, Cook County judge ruled the dashcam footage of Van Dyke shooting McDonald was to be released by the Chicago Police Department. Six days after the video footage being released, on Nov. 24, 2015, Van Dyke’s charges were solidifiedб and Illinois State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, began to face criticism because of the delayed prosecution.
Two days later, on Nov. 26, 2015, floods of protestors took to the Chicago streets, stopping traffic on Michigan Avenue. Protestors announced they were planning of having 15 more protests, totaling 16, the same number of times Van Dyke shot McDonald.
The Van Dyke trial officially started on Sept. 17, 2018, almost four years after the fatal shooting. On Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, Van Dyke was sentenced to six years, nine months in prison by Judge Vincent Gaughan, for second-degree murder of McDonald. Gaughan did not sentence Van Dyke on his 16 charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, which would have given Van Dyke more jail time.
Before giving the sentence, Gaughan said, “it’s just so senseless that these acts occurred… you can see the pain on both sides of the family.”
Activists were upset about the sentencing. Will Calloway, an activist who head speared the release of the dashcam footage, said, “It’s a slap in the face to say black lives don’t matter in this criminal courthouse… Laquan, we love you… He’s the victim here. He always was the victim.”
Laquan’s uncle, Marvin Hunter, read in court, “This sentence represents the sentence of a second-class citizen. It reduced Laquan McDonald’s life to a second-class citizen.”
Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, was thankful for Gaughan’s mercy. She said, “We will continue to pray for the McDonald family and to support Jason. This is a tragedy for both of our families.”
During the sentencing hearing, Van Dyke said, “As a god-fearing man and father, I will have to live with this for the rest of my life, taking it to my grave… No one wants to take someone’s life, even in defense of one’s own. It’s a choice you live with forever.”
Mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy won’t comment on the McDonald shooting, refusing to say if it was a crime or not, in his opinion. McCarthy is Chicago’s former police superintendent terminated by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel amidst Laquan McDonald murder investigation.
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