Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Jury convicts Chicago officer of 2nd-degree murder

Laquan McDonald: Verdict reached in Chicago police shooting Chicago police officer who shot black teen 16 times found guilty of murder
| 07 October, 2018, 08:13

Activist William Calloway, who pressed for the city to release the infamous police dashcam video of the Laquan McDonald shooting, demonstrates with others outside the Cook County courthouse where Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder.

They promised to "shut it down" if jurors cleared Van Dyke in the 2014 killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. But Van Dyke opened fire within seconds of emerging from his patrol vehicle and most of the shots were fired after McDonald fell to the ground.

The head of Chicago's police union, which funded Van Dyke's defence, has promised an appeal and slammed the jury for 'punishing an officer for doing his job'. Three officers, including Van Dyke's partner that night, Joseph Walsh, have been charged with trying conspiring to cover up and lie about what happened to protect Van Dyke. McDonald, they said, was not moving toward Van Dyke at the time of the shooting.

The jury of eight women and four men - one African-American, seven white, one Asian-American and three Hispanic - started deliberations on Thursday afternoon. Before that officer could arrive, Van Dyke opened fire and shot McDonald.

One said Van Dyke needed to "contain the situation, not escalate it".

Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

The prosecution quickly countered that Van Dyke's account was not corroborated by video evidence of the shooting. "This is an emotional time for our city, and many activists are calling for people to take to the streets regardless of the outcome of the trial", Principal Brianna Latko wrote in a letter according to the Chicago Tribune.

Defense attorney Dan Herbert called Van Dyke "a sacrificial lamb" offered by political and community leaders "to save themselves". In August, a Texas jury found former Balch Springs, Texas Officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder for the April 2017 shooting of Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black boy who was shot as he sat in the passenger seat of a auto that was driving away from a house party.


The jury was also given the option of finding him guilty of second-degree murder, which would indicate the mitigating factor that the killing was not premeditated, but that Van Dyke showed obvious disregard for the consequences of his action.

Van Dyke fired 16 shots at McDonald, with a grand jury adding one count of aggravated battery for each bullet fired.

Yesterday a jury convicted the police officer of second-degree murder. Instead of complying, LaQuan McDonald tried to walk away from officers.

Miller thinks Van Dyke testifying in his defense made a difference in him being convicted of second-degree murder.

"I'm really happy", Curtis said, "I really felt like if they had returned a not-guilty verdict I would have burst into tears immediately". Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the police superintendent and a Justice Department investigation found a "pervasive cover-up culture" in the Chicago Police Department, which is headed for federal reforms.

"The video doesn't show my perspective", he said.

Judge Vincent Gaughan revoked bail and ordered Van Dyke taken into custody to await sentencing later this month.

The Chicago Police Department had also begun making plans to react quickly if riots broke out upon a not guilty verdict.

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