The 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old Black teenager, by a Chicago police officer and the eventual release of the video that showed the fatal shooting led to protests across Chicago. People were angry and frustrated with not only his killing, put CPD’s handling of the case and how long it took for the details of McDonald’s murder to be released.
Eight years later, there’s still a reason for people to be angry.
If you plan on searching the video of McDonald’s murder, it is a difficult watch.
The ex-Chicago officer, Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of second-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated assault (one for each bullet shot at McDonald) and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison in January 2019 for the murder of McDonald is set to be released early from prison next month, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Van Dyke will be released on Feb. 3 after serving three years of his near seven-year sentence.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Van Dyke, 43, abandoned appeals of his conviction a year into his sentence, apparently wanting to serve out his time and not endure more of the public controversy and media attention that extended from the night — a year after the shooting — when video of McDonald’s death was released to the public and the three years it took for his case to go to trial.
The Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s uncle and pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church, said he received notice Friday from authorities of Van Dyke’s pending release.
“I’m hoping he’s learned the errors of his ways. I have always asked for justice and not revenge,” Hunter said. “We got as much justice you could get with the players that were there at the time he was on trial. The system needs to be changed, it needs to be overhauled.”
Van Dyke hopes to find a measure of privacy, if not anonymity, once he is released, said Jennifer Blagg, the attorney who handled Van Dyke’s appeal until Van Dyke in 2019 opted to drop any attempt to overturn his conviction.
“This case has taken a huge toll on the family of Laquan, the city of Chicago, and Jason and his family. Jason accepted the verdict and sentence, as he did not appeal,” she said.
“I don’t presume to speak for Jason, but it is my sincere hope that he and his family are given their privacy as they make this transition, with Jason having served the majority of his time in solitary confinement.”
This begs the question: will social justice activists and other Black Chicago residents be as forgiving as McDonald’s uncle and pastor, Rev. Martin Hunter?
Van Dyke was eligible for half of his prison sentence to be taken with good behavior since he was convicted of second-degree murder, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
While waiting for his sentence, Van Dyke was moved from Chicago to county jail on the border of Iowa. Then he was transferred to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut where he was beaten shortly after being put in the general population with other inmates. As a result, he was moved to a lower security federal prison in Otisville, New York.
More from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Van Dyke subsequently was moved to a low-security federal facility in Otisville, New York, but was transferred out of the federal Bureau of Prisons system in November 2019, according to BOP records. The state Department of Corrections online inmate locator does not list Van Dyke as an inmate of any Illinois facility.
Over the course of his time in prison, even Van Dyke’s lawyers said they didn’t always know where he was serving his time. Authorities at Danbury had Van Dyke placed in protective custody immediately after the attack.
High-risk inmates often are placed in what amounts to solitary confinement so that they have almost no interaction with other inmates, a style of custody prison activists have long said is psychological torture. Visits from family were rare, owing to the transfers and security concerns, Herbert said.