Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted of murdering an unarmed Black teenager, was sentenced Friday to 81 months (nearly 7 years) in prison and two years mandatory supervised release, according to ABC. The verdict came nearly five years after Laquan McDonald was gunned down in a hail of excessive and unnecessary bullets.
ABC reports, “Judge Vincent Gaughan said he considered the most serious charge to be the second degree murder charge, not the 16 aggravated battery charges, and made his sentencing decision on that murder charge.” His wife reportedly pleaded in court by saying, “He has paid the ultimate price. He will no longer be a police officer. His life is over.”
The only person who paid the ultimate price is Laquan McDonald.
Originally, it was believed Van Dyke would receive a minimum of 96 years. However, his 12-year-old daughter wrote a letter to the judge saying, “I have been bullied at school about what has happened. Kids come up to me and say that my dad is a murderer. That hurts so much when people say that to me. My dad is not that.” Now, he may only be sentenced to 18 years.
During the sentencing hearing, a parade of Black men who said they were victimized by Van Dyke while he was a police officer claimed the former cop “used racial slurs and excessive force during traffic stops in the years before the 2014 killing that was captured on a shocking dashcam video,” the Associated Press reported.
The horrific video of the killing appeared to show Van Dyke fired at McDonald 16 times within 14 seconds. The video was released one year after McDonald’s death and showed the teen walking away instead of confronting officers, which is what Van Dyke falsely said happened. McDonald continued to be shot at even after he fell to the ground from the initial bullets.
Two police officers and one detective were acquitted on Thursday of trying to cover up the shooting for Van Dyke, even though that was precisely what they did. The three men all said Van Dyke, who was convicted in October, was justified in shooting the teenager 16 times within 14 seconds. Van Dyke’s partner the night of the shooting, even said: “McDonald was walking toward Van Dyke and with his arms raised when he was shot.” The video would later contradict that account, showing Walsh lied. Still, he and his co-defendants were acquitted.