The officer who killed Laquan McDonald has been sentenced.
Last year, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of the 2014 murder of 17-year old Laquan McDonald. Now, the former law enforcement officer has been sentenced to 81 months with two years of mandatory supervised release.
It was Judge Vincent Gaughan who sentenced Van Dyke, considering the conviction on second-degree murder to be the most serious charge even among the 16 charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every bullet that was fired at McDonald. With his conviction, Van Dyke became the first officer in the history of Chicago to be convicted of murder for an on-duty killing.
“I want to say to everyone – everyone in the city of Chicago and across this country – that if they had sentenced him to 1 minute, it is a victory," began Pastor Marvin hunter, McDonald's great uncle following Van Dyke's sentencing. "It is a victory because what has happened in this courtroom today has never happened in the history of this county and it sets a precedent and it sends a strong message to unjust police officers that now you can and will go to jail if you’re caught lying, if you’re caught breaking the law.”
Since Van Dyke's conviction, Chicago lawmakers have implemented legislation that will restrict funding from those agencies that fail to comply with and enforce dash cam policies after it took more than a year after McDonald's murder for officials to release the police cam video of his murder.
Van Dyke's sentencing arrived in on the heels of the acquittal of three police officials who were on trial for their alleged involvement in a cover-up of McDonald's killing in which they were accused of falsifying reports in order to make it seem as though the unarmed teen was the aggressor.
In explaining her decision, Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson backed the actions of the officers, describing Laquan McDonald as "an erratic, armed assailant who ignored commands to drop a small knife."