Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of second-degree murder Friday in the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald that was captured on shocking dashcam video that showed him crumpling to the ground in a hail of 16 bullets as he walked away from police.
The video, some of the most graphic police footage to emerge in years, stoked outrage nationwide and put the nation’s third-largest city at the center of the debate about police misconduct and use of force. The shooting also led to a federal inquiry and calls to reform the Chicago Police Department.
Dyke, 40, was the first Chicago officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting in about 50 years. He was taken into custody moments after the verdict was read.
The second-degree verdict reflected the jury’s finding that Van Dyke believed his life was in danger but that the belief was unreasonable. The jury also had the option of first degree-murder, which required finding that the shooting was unnecessary and unreasonable. A first-degree conviction, with enhancements for the use of a gun, would have carried a mandatory minimum of 45 years.
Second-degree murder usually carries a sentence of less than 20 years, especially for someone with no criminal history. Probation is also an option. Van Dyke was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each bullet.
One legal expert predicted that Van Dyke will be sentenced to no more than six years total. But because he’s an officer, it will be “hard time,” possibly spent in isolation, said Steve Greenberg, who has defended clients at more than 100 murder trials.