Chicago officer sentenced for murdering black teen Laquan McDonald

Handout  Getty Images North America

Handout Getty Images North America

The sentencing follows Thursday's acquittal of three other Chicago police officers on charges they conspired to protect Van Dyke in the case.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder in October.

Van Dyke's lawyers had argued the former officer should only be sentenced to probation for second-degree murder, which is the minimum punishment allowed in IL.

If Van Dyke had been sentenced for the aggravated battery convictions, he also would have had to serve 85 per cent of that sentence, not half as with the second-degree murder. His great-uncle said the sentence reduced McDonald's life to that of "a second-class citizen" and "suggests to us that there are no laws on the books for a black man that a white man is bound to honor".

Van Dyke briefly acknowledged the teen's death, telling the judge that he will have to live with it for the rest of his life.

Prosecutors asked for 18 to 20 years.

On the day the footage was released, Van Dyke was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, as well as other firearm offenses, as protests broke out across Chicago, with many demanding to know why the dashcam video had been withheld for more than a year and accusing police of lying about McDonald's death. Bell's first action after taking office was to remove three veteran assistant prosecutors, including one who played a role in presenting evidence to a grand jury in the case.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan has taken the bench before a packed courtroom as attorneys and spectators prepare for what could be a lengthy sentencing hearing for Jason Van Dyke.

Friday's sentence comes one day after three former and current policemen who were accused of helping to cover up the killing were found not guilty by a different Chicago judge. It touched off celebratory street demonstrations in Chicago. One of the only instances was during opening statements, when special prosecutor Joseph McMahon told jurors that Van Dyke saw "a black boy walking down the street" who had "the audacity to ignore the police".

On Friday, several black motorists testified that the officer used a racial slur and excessive force during traffic stops in the years before the shooting. "Where's my license at?'" Van Dyke said, "Shut the f-- up or you're going to jail", according to Nance.

Van Dyke's wife of 17 years, Tiffany, described how the family has had financial trouble and temporarily lost health insurance. She found no indication the officers tried to hide evidence or made little effort to talk to witnesses.

Judge Stephenson pointed out that the police video at the centre of the case had been preserved. All three officers reported that McDonald, a teen, had lunged at Van Dyke with a knife before being fired upon.

Video of Van Dyke firing 16 shots at McDonald as he walked away from the officer prompted protests, a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the Chicago Police Department and the firing of the police superintendent, among other changes.

The court-ordered release of a police dashboard camera video of the shooting roiled the city, leading to a political reckoning and police reforms.

"The defendants allegedly lied about what occurred and mischaracterised the video recordings so that independent criminal investigators would not learn the truth about the killing and the public would not see the video recordings", they said when charges were announced in June 2017.

In 2014, officers responded to a call about a man breaking into trucks in a parking lot. Emanuel is not seeking a third term in next month's mayoral election.

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