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Crime News Black Lives Matter

Early Release Of Officer Who Shot Laquan McDonald 16 Times Causes Uproar In Chicago

Ex Chicago Cop, Jason Van Dyke was released from prison after serving less than half of his seven-year sentence for the 2014 murder of Black teenager, Laquan McDonald. 

By Wandally Vargas

Former Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke, was released from the Taylorville Correctional Center in Central Illinois on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. 

Van Dyke was released after serving less than half of his seven-year sentence for the 2014 murder of Black teenager, Laquan McDonald. 

His release has caused anger and frustration in the Black community, and backlash against police and government officials in Chicago. Many say it could not have come at a worse time, as the police force is trying to regain public trust from the community. Most recently, Chicago city officials authorized nearly $67 million in settlement payments to victims of police misconduct, according ABC 7, the local news affiliate. 

“They’re trying to restore faith in law enforcement and now we have this?” Rev. Marshall Hatch, a prominent minister on the city’s West Side stated, “And it will absolutely make it harder to get people to come with complaints about cops.”

In 2018, Jason Van Dyke became the first white Chicago police officer in nearly half a century to be convicted of murder for the on-duty shooting of 17-year-old McDonald, which happened in October of 2014. Dash cam video of the incident shows McDonald walking away from the police with a knife before Van Dyke shot him 16 times. 

The outrage from the black community has resulted in a push for federal justice. Both The NAACP and McDonald’s grandmother have asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke. 

“It just reinforces this feeling of hopelessness in African American communities, and reinforces the thought that police can continue their oppressive behavior in those communities and be either exonerated or given light sentences,” said Chico Tillmon, a senior research fellow at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and a former gang member, told the Associated Press. 

“Any length of time for a former cop is difficult,” said Joseph McMahon, the prosecutor who secured Van Dyke's conviction said. “He was physically attacked, spent most of the time in isolation and that is the result of the very real danger he faced day in and day out for the last 3 1/2 years.”

However, many disagree with the sentiment that Van Dyke served enough time.

Rep. Bobby Rush, who represents a large part of Chicago's South Side, told CNN that the "sentence was a slap on the wrist."

"Justice has not really been served. And so there's no comfort, there's no relaxing. There's no sense of, 'Well, let's move on,' because we can't move on," he said. "I can't rest comfortably until I know have exhausted all the means," he added. 

McDonald’s family is not afraid to speak on behalf of their loved one. McDonald’s great Uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter still believes in the significance of the case even if the sentence was not the justice that they had hoped for. 

“Had Jason Van Dyke gotten one day in jail it would have been a victory because he was the first,” said Hunter. “Since then, police across the country are getting convicted of murdering Black people.”