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Ex-Cop Who Fatally Shot Unarmed Teen 16 Times to be Released from Prison Early

Chicago, Ill – After serving only about 39 months of an 81-month sentence for the fatal shooting of17-year-old Laquan McDonald, former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is scheduled to be released from prison on Feb 3.

On his release, Van Dyke will have served less than three years and four-month behind bars for the murder of McDonald on October 20, 2014. 

Video of the shooting from a police dashboard camera, released more than a year later, 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.

In 2018, Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for shooting the unarmed teen 16 times. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, however, he was eligible to shave half the time off his prison term for good behavior, which led to his early release next month. 

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.

“It’s a shame that Jason Van Dyke has a date that he can be paroled and free from his past to a certain degree and Laquan McDonald can never have another birthday,” Hunter said. “My prayer is that Mr. Van Dyke comes out a different man than when he went in.”

In light of the announcement that Van Dyke will be released next month, a group of community activists and faith leaders are calling for the Chicago Transit Authority to shut down in protest if the former police officer is not charged with federal civil rights violations for the shooting.

“We want Local 241 and Local 308 — the trains and the buses — we want them to stand with us. We want them to stand in solidarity with us,” said community activist William Calloway.

Calloway, who help make the dashcam video of the shooting public, said it’s unclear if the transit unions will participate in the 16-day shut-off for 16 shots.

“That’s not a slap in our face, that’s a spit in our face,” said Camiella Williams with Good Kids Mad City.

Once released from prison, Van Dyke will spend at least two years on parole. While on parole he will have to remain within the Chicago area, find steady employment, and check-in with a parole officer at least once a month.

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