Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago cop convicted of gunning down Laquan McDonald, is keeping his fingers crossed about getting out of prison soon, after the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the prosecutor’s request to resentence him.
In January, a judge sentenced the white ex-officer to just six years and nine months behind bars for killing the Black teenager in 2014.
The court’s ruling means that Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon have likely hit a legal dead end in their attempt to get a longer sentence, the Chicago Tribune reported.
At the same time, Van Dyke’s legal team plans to file an appeal of his conviction, which could reduce his already light sentence.
A jury found Van Dyke guilty in October 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for each bullet he fired into Laquan’s body. Under his current sentence, exclusively for the second-degree murder conviction, he could be released from prison in as little as three years. The prosecutor asked the judge to issue a sentence of at least 18 years in prison.
One of the legal disputes in Van Dyke’s case is whether he should have been sentenced for the 16 counts of aggravated battery, which could have resulted in a much longer prison sentence. The judge in the case decided only to sentence Van Dyke on the second-degree murder charge.
Raoul filed a petition in February that asked the Illinois Supreme Court to take a close look at Van Dyke’s sentence.
“This is a question of whether the law was followed and whether a sentence was rendered on the appropriate charges,” said Raoul, who is Black, at a news conference in February, adding, “That is not a political question. That is a question of law.”
The Tribune did not immediately receive a comment from Raoul’s office about his reaction to the high court’s decision. However, Van Dyke’s legal team had plenty to say.
“Our judicial system may not be perfect. However, the bedrock of the system maintains that all defendants, including unpopular ones, are entitled to fair and impartial treatment. Jason Van Dyke is prepared to serve his debt to society and move on with his life in a meaningful and productive manner,” Van Dyke’s trial attorney Daniel Herbert said.