By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader Editor
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder Friday, October 5 by a jury at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, ending decades of frustration in Chicago’s Black community and marking a significant turning point involving police misconduct in the police department’s notorious history.
Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery, but on the count of police misconduct, he was found not guilty.
In a packed courtroom filled with Black activists and clergy jurors decided that Van Dyke was unjustified in using deadly force when he shot teenager, Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 14, 2014.
Wearing a black suit, Van Dyke was stoic as he learned his fate while the verdict was read. He faces life in prison. His wife, Tiffany, also remained stoic and she listened to the verdict.
Van Dyke’s sentencing will be October 31, 2018. Judge Vincent Gaughan revoked Van Dyke’s bond and the officer was jailed after the verdict was announced.
The unanimous verdict was made by a 12-member jury that included just one Black person seven whites, two Hispanics and one Asian. They listened to weeks of testimonies that included at least 40 witnesses.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition will hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. at Rev. Marvin Hunter’s church today to express their opinion on the verdict.
Throngs of television media and print outlets from all over the world were positioned on the first floor of the courthouse to wait for the stunning verdict that came just one day after both sides ended their closing arguments for a high-profile case that has had Chicago on edge as the proceedings drew to a close.
“I think it was a just verdict. We wanted a first-degree murder—we got a second degree, but the verdict was fair,” said Reverend Janette Wilson, Senior Advisor to Rainbow PUSH Coalition.