Monday, 10 December, 2018

Man in custody following threats tied to Van Dyke trial, police say

Laquan McDonald: Verdict reached in Chicago police shooting Chicago police officer who shot black teen 16 times found guilty of murder
Gerardo Duncan | 07 October, 2018, 08:13

Police announced the arrest of Ross shortly before a jury convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Van Dyke shot McDonald from ten feet away, after McDonald disobeyed commands to drop the folding knife he was carrying.

The city had been on edge in advance of the verdict, since the case had already caused political upheaval and months of earlier protests.

The deadly encounter unfolded when officers came upon McDonald, who had a knife, and called for an officer with a Taser to respond to the scene. The video, played repeatedly at trial, showed him firing even after the teen lay motionless on the pavement. In recent years, fatal shootings of civilians by police officers in Cincinnati; Milwaukee; North Charleston, South Carolina; and the Minneapolis area have spurred intense protests, resulted in charges and ended with the officers acquitted or the juries deadlocked.

This trial has drawn particular scrutiny because officers are rarely charged for fatally shooting people on duty. Jurors, who deliberated for five hours on Thursday and about 2 1/2 more on Friday, were sequestered by Judge Vincent Gaughan and kept at an unidentified hotel overnight.

Van Dyke in 2014 killed Laquan McDonald, a black Chicago teenager, when he shot him 16 times.

"If the court lets Van Dyke walk free, that would be illegitimate violence too - a threat against every black and brown youth in Chicago", they said. Voters dismissed the prosecutor in the case, who waited a year to charge Van Dyke. 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.

The families of Van Dyke and McDonald were present in the fifth-floor courtroom.

The trial of Jason Van Dyke, who is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct, has become the latest focus of a long national debate over the use of police force against minorities.

Van Dyke must serve 85 percent of whatever sentence the judge sets before being eligible for parole. Jurors are permitted to consider a lesser charge of second-degree murder as an alternative. He was found not guilty of official misconduct, the Associated Press reports.

Defense attorney Dan Herbert called Van Dyke "a sacrificial lamb" offered by political and community leaders "to save themselves".

"The video doesn't show my perspective", he said.

The crowd frequently chanted "guilty" as they would stop at major intersections and in front of Trump Tower along the way north of the Chicago River on Michigan Ave.

The justice department issued a report previous year that found the police had routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city's residents. "Should this occur, it may create potentially risky situations around the city".

During the trial, Mr Van Dyke was still a member of the Chicago Police Department, though he was suspended without pay pending the outcome.

The Chicago Police Department deployed 4,000 additional officers to the downtown area in anticipation of unrest.

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