Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
The trial had been going for three weeks until the jury started deliberating on Thursday, reaching a verdict just a day later.
McDonald was fatally shot and killed by Van Dyke in 2014. It wasn’t until more than a year later, however, when Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and the video of the shooting was released, that the incident touched off protests and helped focus already broiling dissatisfaction with Chicago’s political and police leadership, especially among African-American residents in the city’s South Side.
Not only had a young black man been killed by police, but claims that he had been “lunging” toward them with a knife were found to be totally false from the video. Not only was McDonald not threatening the officers who had been responding to reports of car break-ins, he had been walking away from them. Three of Van Dyke’s fellow officers were charged for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to cover up the nature of the shooting and protect Van Dyke. They will face trial in November. The three of them provided “virtually identical false information” to those investigating the shooting, prosecutors claimed in a document released Thursday.
While Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, his second-degree murder conviction means that the prosecution proved that he had committed first-degree murder but that there was a mitigating factor. The jury found Van Dyke not guilty of official misconduct.
Van Dyke’s conviction Friday was the first time in almost 50 years that a police officer in Chicago has been convicted of murder for a shooting that occured on-duty, according to the New York Times.
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