Chicago

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Convicted of Second-Degree Murder for Killing Laquan McDonald

Also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each bullet he fired.

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Jason Van Dyke
Chicago court live camera footage

Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke was found guilty this afternoon of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald in 2014. McDonald's death was an abrupt encounter that tore at open wounds between Chicago's government and its community.

At the time of the deadly encounter, McDonald, then 17, was high on PCP and armed with a small knife. Police had been called out on the evening of October 20, 2014, because a suspect (later identified as McDonald) was allegedly breaking into vehicles parked in a lot.

Van Dyke was a late arrival to the confrontation. Before he got there, McDonald had reportedly swung his knife at one witness, who had called 911. Then, as police attempted to corral McDonald while still in their vehicles, he stabbed one of the cars in the tire and hit it in the windshield with his knife.

McDonald eventually fled to a Burger King parking lot and then into a nearby street, which is where Van Dyke and his partner arrived. When Van Dyke exited his police car, he pulled out his gun and opened fire on McDonald almost immediately, though the other officers on the scene didn't even have their guns drawn. He emptied his gun into McDonald, shooting him 16 times.

It's what happened afterward that drew the most outrage. Police officers worked to conceal what happened on the scene, and in initial reports they stated that McDonald had lunged at them with his knife.

Dash camera footage from one police car would show that this description of the encounter was not true. McDonald was not moving toward the officers at all at the time of the shooting. But it would take a year of resistance from Chicago officials (both in the police and at City Hall) and an order from a federal judge before that footage would be publicly released. And only as the footage was released was Van Dyke charged with murder.

Yesterday, as the Van Dyke case jury began deliberations, a judge unsealed internal police documents detailing the efforts to shield the officer, which included another officer saying a detective had ordered him or her to submit an incident report with false information to conceal what had actually happened on scene. A special prosecutor plans to use that information to file charges against three others at the Chicago Police Department for their role in the cover-up.

That the city (predictably) chose to protect an employee at the expense of public transparency and accountability is probably no surprise to most residents of Chicago. The anger at how the city had handled the Van Dyke case may be one reason why Mayor Rahm Emanuel abruptly decided not to seek a third term.

Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each bullet he fired. He was found not guilty of official misconduct. He was charged with first-degree murder, but the jury had the option to determine that there were mitigating factors to classify the shooting as a second-degree murder instead. The judge revoked his bail and he was taken into custody.

Van Dyke faces at least 15 years for the murder conviction and between six and 30 years for each of the 16 aggravated battery charges.

NEXT: Woohoo! People Are Driving More and Dying Less.

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  1. If a man hadn’t died, it would be funny how much it sounds like he thinks he’s playing a video game.

    “Okay, there’s the bad guy, now I have to shoot him until he stops moving.”

    1. This is how police are being trained to shoot these days. If you need to shoot at all, empty your magazine.

      They are being trained to do this despite the shear tactical stupidity of doing that in a situation where there might be more than one threat in the area.

      The only reason for this that makes sense to me is that it’s easier for them to teach officers to “spray and pray” than to teach them good marksmanship and how to maintain good marksmanship in difficult / stressful conditions.

      1. Wonder if it also lowers the risk of civil lawsuits. If you just injure someone there is the potential for long term medical and disability claims and juries may be more inclined to award for damages than they would be to convict in a criminal charge.

        1. Also dead people cannot testify.

          1. You can kill people with one bullet if you know how to shoot straight.

        2. I got my degree in Criminal Justice, was actually planning on becoming a cop originally, but decided to take a route that didn’t include being part of the problem. Cops are only supposed to shoot somebody if they believe themselves or others are in danger, the line of thought is if they only shoot the suspect once or twice, and the suspect lives, a good lawyer would be able to argue that obviously the cop didn’t feel he was in danger, otherwise he wouldn’t have stopped shooting until the suspect was clearly dead. Therefore, the suspect can argue police overuse of force, with all the criminal and civil possibilities that brings.

          At least, that’s what I remember being taught.

          1. Except there’s another tactic that they could teach to deal with that other that a straight no pause mag dump.

            Double tap.
            Pause.
            Evaluate condition of threat.
            If necessary, rinse repeat.

            NYPD has has multiple cases of multiple cops on scene doing mag dumps on a single suspect, and still having the suspect survive because out of 60+ rounds down range, they only hit the suspect once or twice (if they hit the suspect at all). And to top it off, the end up with multiple bystanders hit by police bullets. They are simply lucky that they haven’t had any bystander fatalities from police shooting yet.

            1. A couple things against that though (and keep in mind that thankfully our police are not all one organization, there’s a few thousand different departments all with different levels of training, equipment, and laws to follow. Not all departments do the mag dump). A mag dump can be excused as “I was in fear for my life” later on when the family (or surviving suspect) presses civil/criminal charges. Double tap means you’re thinking clearly and rationally, which is against the narrative they want and makes it harder to defend in court.

              Secondly, NYPD has this ludicrously stupid rule where police handguns must have a 12-pound trigger pull. When the majority of service weapons chamber 9mm and are supposed to have a 5.5 lb pull, this makes it almost impossible to aim effectively… which means your best bet might just be quantity. You’re right, they’re simply lucky they haven’t killed any bystanders yet. Also, this only applies to the NYPD to my knowledge.

      2. We had an “armed man in the school” situation, Mexican stand-off with the SRO, two deputies arrived, the man refused to drop the weapon, the man swung back at the SRO with the gun, three double taps – two shots by each officer.

        I believe magazine dumps are not standard training around here and I suspect it might have to do with limitations on the use of deadly force, due to Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985).

        Jul 2016 Lakeem Keon Scott disgruntled over national newss coverage of police shootings of blacks opened fire on white people on the Volunteer Highway killing one, wounding three, He was shot and wounded and taken alive to stand trial. In Chicago he’d probably have been summarily executed multiple mag dumps. In NYC they’d probably shot everyone on the highway but him. Another thing encouraging mag dumps is that horrid “New York Trigger” that is three times the weight of the gun, making accurate shooting impossible.

        1. “I believe magazine dumps are not standard training around here”

          Yet.

  2. Yesterday, as the Van Dyke case jury began deliberations, a judge unsealed internal police documents detailing the efforts to shield the officer, which included another officer saying a detective had ordered him or her to submit an incident report with false information to conceal what had actually happened on scene. A special prosecutor plans to use that information to file charges against three others at the Chicago Police Department for their role in the cover-up.

    This is the most interesting part. I can dream about it expanding until hundreds of crooked cops are busted, even if it is just a day dream.

    1. As long as we are dreaming, why stop at hundreds?

      Lets bust the whole Chicago PD.

    2. Is this shit really happening? Big if true.

  3. I trust he’s appealing the decision. “Your honor, I was so crazed with fear that I have no idea what I was doing. It was several hours before I had calmed down enough to realize that I had shit my pants. I’d like to see the brave hero in this situation who wouldn’t crap his pants in terror! It’s a gross miscarriage of justice to hold an insane and mentally incompetent man such as myself to the standards of a sane and rational man in the face of all the demons of Hell as I was facing at that moment.”

  4. “Yesterday, as the Van Dyke case jury began deliberations, a judge unsealed internal police documents detailing the efforts to shield the officer, which included another officer saying a detective had ordered him or her to submit an incident report with false information to conceal what had actually happened on scene. A special prosecutor plans to use that information to file charges against three others at the Chicago Police Department for their role in the cover-up.”

    You would think Chicago would eventually learn to stop doing this given the millions of dollars they’ve already spent paying people for code of silence lawsuits

    1. What’s there to learn when its millions of dollars of *other people’s* money?

      1. I’m sure it blows a hole in the budget that Chicago aldermen could otherwise use to buy votes

        1. No, they’ll just raise taxes. There’s no shortage of fools willing to fork it over. Those kids just think it’s so COOL to live in the hustling, bustling big city. That toddlin’ town. I have no sympathy for them.

    2. It makes you wonder how many times it’s been successful that we don’t know about to make it worth the risk.

  5. The more of these police officer convictions, the more police will think twice before murdering unarmed people- Maybe.

    1. Yeah, they don’t give a shit about settling lawsuits because it doesn’t fall on the actual officers. Glad the jury got this one right

    2. The odds remain heavily on their side.

    3. “The more of these police officer convictions, the more police will think twice before murdering unarmed people- Maybe”….or legislatures will have to increase police immunity to the level of judicial immunity, so cops are covered when acting as judge, jury and executioner, because cops are too afraid to police and civilization will fall.

  6. What gets me about this is how the PCP with a knife guy cop was convicted, but not the Tamir Rice cop, or the cop who murdered a completely innocent man in cold blood in Wichita.

    1. Because most jurors are idiots?

    2. It’s tough to use the Tamir Rice defense (ie, “Procedures were followed,”) when there’s tons of video evidence demonstrating that 15 other officers weren’t trigger-happy lunatics.

      The sad part is that the 15 other cops who weren’t trigger happy lunatics still decided protecting that guy was preferable to letting justice be served and not having to work with him anymore, so you realize they can’t be very much better.

    3. Tamir Rice’s killer, Timothy Loehmann just got a new job as a cop in Bellaire OH.
      Terrific choice by both employer and employee.
      It seems everything is just fine on the other side of the thin blue lie.

  7. Also I absolutely LOVE the conviction per bullet thing. I’ve never heard of that before.

    Empty a mag = get more time

    1. Haha, yeah, so do I. That’s REALLY gonna cost him. Failing appeal [which ain’t certain, unfortunately] the pig’s basically gonna be in jail for the rest of his life. He’s done. Good.

    2. Beating a dead horse will count as extra cruelty too, if this catches on.

    3. Unfortunately, when dealing with multiple sentences in criminal trials, it is more common these days for the time to be served concurrently than it is for them to be required to serve each sentence consecutively.

    4. Unfortunately, when dealing with multiple sentences in criminal trials, it is more common these days for the time to be served concurrently than it is for them to be required to serve each sentence consecutively.

    5. I gotta disagree. While I’m happy Van Dyke got his (a rare moment in police shootings), I don’t like the idea of overcharging a crime (where a single incident is charged with 50 counts of random things). I don’t like it when it happens to citizens. Don’t like it when it happens to cops either. Just because police get away with their crap 99% of the time, doesn’t make it right.

    6. Just to be sporting …does one receive a separate murder charge for each alleged swing of the axe or every finger used to strangle their ex wife? Does ever ugly thrust of a rapist rightfully earn it’s own rape charge?

      One crime one charge one conviction…fucking hippies

      1. @King & JoeJoe, same. While I’m glad the cop’s serving time, a conviction for each bullet shot sounds like the sort of bs Libertarians are supposed to be pushing against. Stuff like this is what cops and prosecutors use to threaten people into accepting guilty pleas.

    7. I predict that those 16 counts will play a large part in the appeal. Watch for them to be thrown out and VanDykes sentence to get shorter conveniently after this has fallen out of the news cycle. He’ll be out in no time even though 13 of the shots hit McDonald as he lay on the ground.

  8. And only as the footage was released was Van Dyke charged with murder.

    Video killed the police blotter star.

    1. Only as the DNA test results were written up did Slick Willie admit to having an intern wank his weenie. Liars will stick to their fabrications until whacked upside the haid by hard evidence. This is simply another instance.

      1. And Dr Ford will never have to admit anything…unless they have tapes of her prep sessions with the lawyers.

        1. It’s funny that the very same people who screech about uncorroborated allegations and lack of evidence turn around and claim that there is a criminal conspiracy without any evidence at all, not even a witness.

  9. >>>stabbed one of the cars in the tire and hit it in the windshield with his knife

    car 27 was one day from retirement

    1. Damn! Damn! Damn!

    2. It was getting too old for this shit.

  10. He emptied his gun into McDonald, shooting him 16 times.

    Which by the way, is in their training.

  11. Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each bullet he fired.

    Huh, almost makes you wonder if the prosecutor was trying to overreach again, hoping for an acquittal. This seems like a highly unusual approach to charging someone that could, pardon the pun, backfire.

    I’ve never heard of someone on trial for a fist fight getting charged for each punch to the face and kick to the groin.

    1. Was wondering this myself – trying to google now – has anyone seen a case changed this way before?

      1. Cases against normal people are routinely charge like that. If you don’t take a plea deal, they throw every charge they can at you.

  12. Scratch one murdering stormtrooper. Now cue up the goonion infiltrators in the commentariat to blame the downfall of a valiant First Initiator? on the libearl scumbags at Reason. How dare they undermine the Thin Blue Meanies in the city corrupted by prohibition laws bought and paid for by corn sugar factories. It’s music to my eyes…

  13. I’m glad this guy is getting put away for his crime.

    That said, I think the idea of piling on “16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each bullet he fired” to the murder that he committed is just silly and not what any sane legislature intended for how laws are supposed to work together. That smacks of prosecutorial gamesmanship – prosecutors trying to rack up a ‘win record’ rather than working toward justice.

    1. Like (Paul.) said, it could’ve been a poison pill.

  14. 16 rounds in the magazine? Seems like we need common sense limits on magazine capacity for police. Maybe 5. Then perhaps they’ll exercise restraint instead of just madly playing target practice with human beings.

    1. Let them go back to .38 revolvers.

      1. A pair of .50 flintlock pistols.

    2. Barney Fife was ahead of his time.

  15. “McDonald eventually fled to a Burger King …” so he could have it his way, no pickle, and boy was he disappointed.

  16. the should prosecute Emmanuel for covering it up

  17. Wonder how his fellow inmates will treat him in prison.

    1. Maybe the investigation into the coverup will expand so much that there will be more cops in prison than “civilians”.

  18. White police officer convicted of killing black citizen.

    Let the wailing among Republicans and other authoritarian bigots begin.

    1. Please report if you find any.

      1. I don’t attend many backwater militia meetings, faithhealing sessions, or Republican Committee meetings, so it might take a day or two.

        1. Cool story bro

  19. “At least 20 citizen complaints have been filed against Officer Van Dyke (Star #9465) since 2001, but none resulted in disciplinary action.[15][16] Ten of the complaints allege he used excessive force, and two involve the use of a firearm.” -wiki

    If only there had been some indication that he was a loose cannon or loose with a cannon. What do I know. Maybe 20 complaints is on the low side for that city. Let’s be careful out there.

    1. Sorry, for an official report or complaint to be filed it is 21 violations against fellow citizens…..so close.

  20. He will be sentenced to two weeks of desk duty.

  21. No, your honor, I did not stab him – it was an accident. He backed into my knife 16 times.

  22. Not guilty of official misconduct ? That says it all why we need to cheer when cops are shot in the face.
    Put him in Gen Pop and let him let him get ass fucked to death

  23. So a PCP user with a knife takes down a good police officer.

    Which of these two would we prefer gone, and which one would we prefer remain among us?

    1. “Which of these two would we prefer gone, and which one would we prefer remain among us?”

      Well, hell. I did not know it was an either/or outcome. Can you say, “False choices?”
      Cops could have pulled out the net gun to subdue him or tripped him up with his night stick but no, he had to go full on jack booted thug.

      Don’t be so judgy about PCP users. They just want to fly; hence the name angel dust. No ID or TSA pat down required.

    2. Let’s see. 20 people found the courage to make an official complaint about the “good” cop. AFAIK, no one had any complaints about McDonald, save for the cops whose tires he slashed. McDonald never swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, the cop did swear such an oath, and then he perjured that oath, according to the 20 complainants, at least 20 times.

      20 to 1, I’ll take the PCP user.

  24. The corruption needs to be confronted, of course.

    But walking around on PCP with a knife should be expected to yield fatal results.

    We need these people gone.

    The law needs to change.

    1. OK, since you’ve got such a well reasoned argument, I’ll go ahead and piss on our Constitution and let cops dispense summary judgement on the street, that’s a good idea.

      Fuck off, slaver.

  25. Nice to know that Chicago has found a scapegoat for all of its street problems.

    1. Well, the Chicago cops gotta keep their street cred high by not letting badgeless criminals do all of the shootings. How long before Van Dick gets a tear drop tattoo below his eye.

  26. I must be the only person who watched the video where Laquan spun abruptly 180 degrees and the officer fired simultaneously. If Laquan was throwing his blade in that moment he might have killed an officer.

  27. Was it excessive force? No doubt, but let’s not forget Mayor Rahm’s complicity in all this. By sitting on the video to ensure his own re-election, when it was released it possibly had an even greater impact than it would have, had it been released before the election. Doubtful Van Dyke would have been up for First Degree murder in that scenario. Rahm may have decided not to run for re-election, but he’ll go on to some nice cushy Million dollar job and live happily ever after.

  28. It is difficult to have any sympathy for the officer, and his sentencing will be conditioned by the prevailing cultural winds. Just shoot him in the leg, or something, if you simply must shoot him? On the other side of the coin, PCP-stoked knife-wielding repeat offenders we can do without.

  29. Ignoramus “police should” from people with no legal or law enforcement training aside, if the cop was a problem then the corrupt administration failed the people (read Democrats). And now police all over Chicago will just avoid going to a “man with a knife” call and probably gunshot complaints so as to not be put into a position to have to shoot someone. Citizens can fend for themselves, the right of honest citizens to carry firearms a bit of a problem there. But hey, the criminals with the guns will be safe. And if you want to no longer be an ignoramus look up “Force Science” which explains the science behind use of force by police and read a few Supreme Court decisions on it before posting dumb “cops are trained to” and “shoot him in the foot” comments.

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