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Chicago officer convicted in teen’s death

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 10/05/18, 03:28 pm

A jury on Friday convicted a white Chicago police officer of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of a black teenager. Officer Jason Van Dyke, a 13-year veteran of the force, shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was holding a knife and had stabbed the tire of a police car. Officers had him surrounded on a city street and were waiting for someone to arrive with a stun gun to subdue him. Squad car video showed McDonald walking away from police when Van Dyke fired 16 shots. At trial, Van Dyke said the video did not show his point of view, and he believed his life was in danger. His defense team argued that McDonald was dangerous, pointing to autopsy findings that he had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system.

Prosecutors charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder, but the judge told jurors the second-degree charge was also available if they concluded Van Dyke believed his life was in danger but the belief was unreasonable. Second-degree murder usually carries a sentence of less than 20 years. Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting in more than 50 years.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 10/08/2018 03:32 pm

    A shame another young man is dead, and a shame a law enforcement officer lost it and did the shooting. 

    But realistically: the kid’s family can rant all they like about what a fine young man he was, but look into his record. Odds extremely high for Laquan McDonald to be dead or in prison fairly soon, had his life not ended at the hands of Van Dyke. 

    I know miracles can happen, and a decent older man was investing a lot of himself in McDonald to try to mentor him. But from my viewpoint, progress was extremely slim. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Mon, 10/08/2018 06:31 pm

    Listen to yourself. A young man was murdered by an officer in uniform, and you're acting like it doesn't really matter because he probably would have been dead or in prison soon anyway (which are two different things, by the way). And then you imply that his family is being unreasonable to focus on the positives of his life, now that he's gone. Wouldn't any parent do the same?

    And don't you understand? It isn't just that his life was lost--the fact that this wrong was done by a police officer is bound to tip more young men into ignoring the law and regarding it as an instrument of control rather than justice. And it's bound to make more young men bolt in fear for their lives when a police officer tells them to stop. This needs to end.