The former Chicago police officer who was convicted of killing Laquan McDonald will be released from jail next month. The man is being released early after completing three years of his nearly seven-year sentence.
Jason Van Dyke, the ex-cop who shot and killed the 17-year-old Black teen 16 times in 2014, is going to be let free. He will be released on Feb. 3 after serving less than half of his sentence.
McDonald’s shooting drew widespread notice. On Monday night, Oct. 20, 2014, McDonald was shot while fleeing from Van Dyke across a Southwest Side crossing.
The officer’s dashcam video, which was revealed over a year later, was not only utilized as evidence but also cast doubt on the blue “code of silence” inside law enforcement. It took more than three years for the cop to be charged with the murder.
In October of 2018, four years after the murder, the man was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated violence for each gunshot that hit the youngster.
Van Dyke was sentenced to 81 months in prison the next year, far less than the 18 to 20 years proposed by the prosecution. Van Dyke first sought to overturn his conviction, but after a year in prison, he decided to keep a low profile and serve out his term.
Van Dyke’s old appeals lawyer believes his time in prison was well spent. She claims he spent a lot of time alone contemplating his crime and hopes to make a fresh start away from the spotlight.
“This case has taken a significant toll on the family of Laquan, the city of Chicago, and Jason and his family,” said lawyer Jennifer Blagg. Jason did not file an appeal and accepted the judgment and punishment.”
She said, “I don’t presume to speak for Jason.” “However, considering that Jason has spent the majority of his time in solitary confinement, it is my fervent hope that he and his family are granted their privacy as they make this adjustment.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Van Dyke was beaten up by other convicts just hours after being transferred to the general population in prison.
During his three years in prison, he was transported to different facilities and placed in protective custody at one time. He was put in solitary confinement because he was a “high-risk” detainee.
“It wasn’t a nice experience for him,” his former lawyer Dan Herbert said, adding, “But he’s paid his debt to society.” Now he just wants to get on with his life and be quiet and productive.”
However, many argue that this isn’t the case.
Activists, religious leaders, and family members are angered by the 43-year-early old’s release and are calling for federal civil rights violations charges to be filed against him.
Van Dyke’s release, according to Kamiera Williams of GoodKids Mad City, an organization dedicated to keeping Black and brown youth away from violence, is disrespectful. “It’s the spit on our face, not a smack on the cheek.”
Others are calling for action.
“We’ve gone over the law. We’ve looked into the law. So they can’t say there’s a statute of limitations,” William Calloway, one of the campaign’s founding members who helped publicize the dashcam video in 2015, said during a press conference.
“As a US attorney, he has to do the right thing and defend us,” he continued. “Jason Van Dyke is a community threat.” I’m not sure I’m safe. If he’s freed, I feel like my life is in jeopardy.”
The demonstrators want the Chicago Transit Authority to shut down for a little more than two weeks if those charges aren’t filed.
For the 16 rounds that murdered McDonald, the campaign calls for a 16-day suspension of public transit.
According to Illinois New Live, “We want Local 241 and Local 308 — the trains and the buses — we want them to stand with us,” Calloway said. We want them to join us in solidarity.
The protest will remind the powers that be that the community is strong and serious about their demands, according to Bishop Tabis Grant of the Rainbow Push Union. “Boycotts have a lot of power.” We’ve seen how effective sit-ins can be. We understand the power of a march.”
Politicians are also being asked to join the demonstration by the protestors. “When all of these folks ran for office, they ran behind Laquan McDonald,” Make Noise For Change’s Dr. Lashawna Littrice reminded the public.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, relatives of the deceased stated they were informed of the publication on Friday, Jan. 14. “I’m hoping he’s learned the errors of his ways,” said Rev. Marvin Hunter, the boy’s uncle and the pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church. I’ve always demanded justice, not vengeance.”
“With the guys that were there at the time he was on trial, we obtained as much justice as we could.” Disillusioned about the current state of justice in his town, he continued. “The system needs to be changed, it needs to be overhauled.”