Officer who shot black teen sentenced to nearly 7 years

The Latest on the sentencing of the Chicago police officer who fired the shots that killed black teenager Laquan McDonald (all times local): 7:15 p.m.

Laquan McDonald’s great-uncle says that although it’s a partial victory that the former Chicago police officer who killed the black teen received any prison time, it’s still a sad day for the country and its justice system.

The Rev. Marvin Hunter said Friday after Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison that the case sends a “strong message” to other police officers that they can and will go to jail if they’re caught lying or breaking the law.

However, Hunter says Van Dyke “clearly committed murder” and that footage of him shooting McDonald 16 times has been shown all over the world. He says anyone with a conscience knows it was murder and that legal changes are needed.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each shot.

6:50 p.m.

Jason Van Dyke’s lead attorney says the former Chicago police officer “truly felt great” and “was happy” with the nearly seven-year prison sentence he received for fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Attorney Dan Herbert said after Friday’s hearing that, “We’re happy that he does have the ability to see those two beautiful girls … and his wife, he’s gonna see the better part of their lives.”

Lawyers for both sides agreed that if Van Dyke behaves in prison, he could get out after serving half of his 81-month sentence, which would be less than three-and-a-half years.

In Illinois, judges are typically required to sentence defendants for the most serious crime for which they’re convicted.

Judge Vincent Gaughan’s decision to sentence Van Dyke on the second-degree murder charge instead of the 16 counts of aggravated battery was a huge break for the former officer. Had he been sentenced for the battery counts, Van Dyke would have had to serve 85 percent of his sentence.

6:20 p.m.

The prosecutor who oversaw the case against the Chicago police officer who killed black teenager Laquan McDonald says he can live with the nearly seven-year prison sentence the defendant received.

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said after Jason Van Dyke’s sentencing hearing Friday that “Our goal was to find the truth, present the truth and ask for justice. … It was not revenge.”

He says there was never a moment when he felt Judge Vincent Gaughan “wasn’t absolutely following and considering heartfelt testimonies.”

He also says it was a “historical case” and that he believes the system worked.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald.

6:05 p.m.

A relative of Laquan McDonald says he doesn’t think the sentence for the police officer who killed the black teen is sufficient.

The Rev. Marvin Hunter said Friday that Judge Vincent Gaughan’s sentence of six years and nine months in prison doesn’t do his great-nephew justice.

Activist William Calloway said 81 months “is a slap in the face to us and a slap on the wrist for him,” referring to the defendant, former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.

Van Dyke barely moved when the judge sentenced him. A jury convicted him in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald in 2014.

Police dashcam video of the confrontation showed Van Dyke firing round after round into the teenager even after he had crumpled to the ground and was barely moving.

5:40 p.m.

Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke didn’t react when he was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for the 2014 killing of black teen Laquan McDonald.

Van Dyke sat still and blinked as Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced him Friday to six years and nine months behind bars. His wife, Tiffany Van Dyke, also didn’t react, but others in her row in the courtroom gallery showed relief.

The couple’s older daughter started crying and said “I want him home.”

Before handing down his sentence, Gaughan said the shooting had affected both McDonald’s and Van Dyke’s families and that he assumed that “100 percent of people will be disappointed” with his decision.

5:30 p.m.

A judge has sentenced former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to nearly seven years in prison in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Judge Vincent Gaughan’s sentence of six years and nine months in prison Fridaycame a day after another judge acquittedthree other officers of trying to cover up the shooting to protect Van Dyke.

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, including after the 17-year-old was on the ground and barely moving. A jury convicted him in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each shot.

The case went largely unnoticed until the city was forced to release police dashcam video 13 months after it happened. The video sparked large protests and led to the ouster of Chicago’s top police official and some department reforms.

The 40-year-old Van Dyke is believed to be the first Chicago officer convicted in a fatal on-duty shooting of an African-American.

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5:15 p.m.

Former Chicago police office Jason Van Dyke has told the judge who will sentence him that “The last thing I wanted to do was shoot Laquan McDonald”

Van Dyke spoke briefly Friday after more than a dozen character witnesses testified and after his attorneys and prosecutors summed up their cases.

The former officer didn’t testify before a jury convicted him in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot the black teenager.

Van Dyke said Friday that he has “prayed daily for the soul of Laquan McDonald.”

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5 p.m.

The prosecutor in the trial of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke says a sentence of between 18 and 20 years would be appropriate for the killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said Friday while summing up the state’s case that Van Dyke’s 2014 shooting of the 17-year-old has been “devastating” not just for Chicago but for the entire nation because it has further deepened the public’s distrust in the police.

A jury convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time the officer shot McDonald.

Defense attorney Darren O’Brien asked the judge to sentence Van Dyke to probation. He said the murder charge allows for probation and that this case “screams out” for such a sentence.

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4:45 p.m.

Attorneys are about to make their closing statements at the sentencing hearing for former Chicago police officer Jason McDonald in the 2014 killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers called more than a dozen character witnesses during Friday’s hearing, including McDonald’s great-uncle and Van Dyke’s wife and 17-year-old daughter.

Among the witnesses called by prosecutors were several black men who recounted run-ins with Van Dyke during traffic stops.

The former officer’s family members said he’s a good father and husband who isn’t hate-filled or racist.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald.

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4:20 p.m.

Jason Van Dyke’s wife says her life has been “a nightmare” and has been turned upside down since the former Chicago police officer’s murder conviction in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

Tiffany Van Dyke said Friday at her husband’s sentencing hearing that he is her “everything,” her “other half” and her “heart.”

She echoed other family members who testified that her husband isn’t racist or full of hatred.

Fighting through tears, she said her two daughters don’t eat or sleep and get bullied at school by kids who tell them “their father is a murderer.”

Jason Van Dyke wiped his nose and eyes with a tissue as his wife testified. He was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald.

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4 p.m.

Jason Van Dyke’s family members are trying to humanize the former Chicago police officer during his sentencing hearing for the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, saying he’s a good father and husband who goes out of his way to help and who isn’t racist.

Van Dyke’s sister, Heidi Kauffunger, told the court Friday that her brother has been abandoned by family and friends since he was charged. She says he was even contacted by someone who said Van Dyke had mistakenly been invited to a wedding and that the family didn’t want him there because “it would take attention away” from the bride and groom.

Kauffunger begged the court for mercy and said if her brother goes to prison the family “will lose everything.” She says Van Dyke’s two daughters have been bullied and that the older one even had the words “16 shots” written on her school desk.

His father, Owen Van Dyke, said Jason was a good student and is a good son.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald.

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3:40 p.m.

Jason Van Dyke’s brother-in-law says the former Chicago police officer is a “gentle giant” and isn’t the “monster” or “racist cop” that he’s been portrayed as by the media.

Keith Thompson said Friday at Van Dyke’s sentencing hearing that Van Dyke has always treated people fairly. Thompson, who is black and whose wife is the sister of Van Dyke’s wife, said he has never seen anything to indicate that Van Dyke is racist in the 13 years he’s known him.

He said it will be very difficult for the family moving forward because Van Dyke is a convicted felon.

Van Dyke, who is white, was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

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3:20 p.m.

One of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke’s daughters spoke during his sentencing hearing and blamed the media for shaming “police officers for doing their jobs.”

Kaylee Van Dyke told the court Friday that she wrote a paper for her high school civics class about “the harsh reality” of police work.

The 17-year-old said she knows the positives of the job, but that she thinks the media “twists events, making people create negative thoughts.”

She said police officers don’t care about people’s color, “they care about your safety.” She also said she regrets all the times she didn’t hug her father.

Jason Van Dyke, who is white, was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

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2:45 p.m.

A prosecution witness at the sentencing of the Chicago police officer who killed black teen Laquan McDonald wasn’t able to identify the officer in the courtroom, so he wasn’t allowed to keep testifying.

Alberto Luces was one of several men who testified Friday about run-ins they had with Officer Jason Van Dyke during traffic stops. Luces, who is deaf, said through a sign language interpreter that he was pulled over by two officers, one black and one white. But when asked to identify the white officer in the courtroom, Luces said he couldn’t because he didn’t have his glasses.

The judge allowed Luces to walk around the courtroom, but he still wasn’t able to pick out Van Dyke even though the former officer was wearing a bright yellow jail jumpsuit. Van Dyke has grown a bushy beard and mustache since he was convicted in October of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

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2 p.m.

A relative of Laquan McDonald has been allowed to read a victim impact statement from the slain black teen’s perspective, saying Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke killed his grandnephew without provocation.

Reading from a prepared text in the first person as Laquan McDonald on Friday, the Rev. Marvin Hunter said, “I am a 17-year-old boy” and “I am unable to speak in my own voice” because officer Jason Van Dyke “thought he would become judge, jury and executioner.

He added, “My death has brought inconsolable pain to my mother and my sister … my family. … He has not just destroyed my life but the life of his wife and children.”

In asking for a stiff sentence for Van Dyke, he said: “Why should this person who ended my life forever … who has never asked for forgiveness … be free when I am dead for forever?”

Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald.

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12:40 p.m.

Several black men called to testify during the sentencing hearing of the Chicago police officer who killed black teenager Laquan McDonald have described their own run-ins with the officer during traffic stops.

Vidale Joy told the court Friday that Jason Van Dyke used a racial slur and put a gun to his head during a 2005 stop. He said Van Dyke “looked infuriated” and seemed “out of his mind.” Under cross examination, Joy conceded that he didn’t allege in his first accounts of the traffic stop that Van Dyke had used a slur.

Witness Ed Nance wept as he testified that he hasn’t been the same since a 2007 stop. He says Van Dyke pulled him by the arms to the squad car while he was handcuffed and that he has undergone three surgeries to his shoulders as a result. He also says he has PTSD from the incident.

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11:50 a.m.

Attorneys at the sentencing hearing for the Chicago police officer who killed black teenager Laquan McDonald have made their arguments about which charge he faces is the most serious.

Judge Vincent Gaughan’s decision on whether Jason Van Dyke’s second-degree murder or aggravated battery conviction is more serious will help determine the severity of the sentence.

In Illinois, judges are typically required to sentence defendants for the most serious crime for which they’re convicted.

The defense wants Van Dyke to be sentenced for the second-degree murder charge, partly because it carries a shorter mandatory minimum prison term of four years.

Prosecutors want the judge to focus on the 16 aggravated battery counts. Each carries a mandatory minimum prison term of six years and sentences for each count may have to be served consecutively instead of concurrently.

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9:50 a.m.

The sentencing hearing has begun for the Chicago police officer who killed black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014.

Jason Van Dyke, who was booted from the force once he was convicted, was led into court Friday in a yellow jail jumpsuit. His wife and two daughters are at the hearing.

Judge Vincent Gaughan says he’ll first hear legal arguments about which is the more serious charge against Van Dyke, who was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each time he shot McDonald. If he decides the murder charge is more serious, that could lead to a lesser sentence under a complex sentencing equation.

After that legal issue is settled, attorneys will call witnesses to make the case for aggravating or mitigating circumstances before making their final arguments.

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12:05 a.m.

A judge rejected allegations that the shocking video of Laquan McDonald’s death proved that police officers staged a cover-up in the fatal shooting of the black teen.

Now another judge must decide how long the officer who pulled the trigger spends behind bars. Jason Van Dyke was convicted in October of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. He will likely be given prison time when he’s sentenced Friday.

But critics of the police department who cheered Van Dyke’s conviction are worried after a judge on Thursday acquitted three officers accused of trying to conceal what happened to protect their colleague. He was the first Chicago officer found guilty in an on-duty shooting in a half century and probably the first ever in the shooting of an African-American.

(AP).

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