Jury reaches verdict in trial of Chicago police officer

Geraldine Edwards
October 8, 2018

Van Dyke was taken straight into custody.

The jury deliberated for less than eight hours over two days in the case, in which Van Dyke faced the possibility of life in prison for shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times on a Chicago street in October 2014.

Mr Van Dyke has also been found guilty on all 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm - one count per shot fired.

"The school thought it was a threat so they pulled the daughter into the police room because not only did they start saying they're going to attack his daughter, they started passing out pictures so that all of these kids could figure out who was to attack", lead defense attorney, Daniel Herbert, said. Dr. Laurence Miller said that when Van Dyke heard on his radio that McDonald had a knife and had punctured the tire of a squad vehicle, he told his partner: "Oh my God, we're going to have to shoot the guy". She said she was a little disappointed that Van Dyke wasn't found guilty of first-degree murder but said his conviction was a step toward "what we've been fighting for forever and needs to be an example".

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The city of Chicago had already reached a $5,000,000 (£3,810,000) civil settlement with the teenager's family.

Members of the jury later told reporters that Van Dyke's testimony was not credible and seemed rehearsed.

A week before jury selection began, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek a third term, although his office insisted the case had nothing to do with his decision.

On Friday, following the jury's determination, demonstrators gathered in the city's streets and celebrated the outcome. Although Van Dyke argued to the court that he was acting in self defense because McDonald was advancing on him, video evidence showed that McDonald was not moving toward Van Dyke at the time when the officer opened fire. He knew the stakes.

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Chance the Rapper was among the first people to tweet about the case. McDonald was not moving toward the officers at all at the time of the shooting. Convictions are even less likely to follow, as officers have wide latitude under the law to use deadly force.

They also said he had exaggerated McDonald's actions that night to justify the fatal shooting. The shooting is one of a series of high-profile killings of black men by white officers. An ongoing Washington Post database has found that on-duty police officers fatally shoot just under 1,000 people each year. Last year, seven officers were charged. An officer with a Taser was just 25 seconds away.

A rare scene in the American justice system unfolded Friday in a Chicago courthouse: A white officer stood before a mostly white jury and was convicted of killing a black teenager. The slaying was captured on police video that showed the knife-wielding teen appearing to walk away from officers when he was shot. The footage was released following his death, showing how McDonald actually advanced towards the teen, contrary to what was initially reported.

However, police did not say if it's related to what happened to Van Dyke's children.

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In a statement after the verdict, Johnson and Emanuel called for police, officials and residents alike to "continue to hear each other and partner with each other".

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