On October 20, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois, shortly before 10 p.m., police received a call about a man carrying a knife and breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. During the encounter, one of the officers ended up shooting the individual, Laquan McDonald, and the investigation and trial has been ongoing since then.
On Friday, October 5, 2018, during their second day of deliberations, a jury found Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of murder in the second degree.
The charge against Van Dyke sounds similar to many from cases that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ types have rioted over.
A teenage African-American male, in this case one armed with a knife, was walking through a trucking yard, using a three-inch knife to slash tires and break into various vehicles.
When officers arrived on the scene, McDonald even used that knife to slash the tires on a patrol car and to damage its windshield, but then walked away.
He repeatedly ignored instructions from the responding offices to drop the knife, which caused officers to request a unit with a Taser for backup (Chicago at the time didn’t have every officer armed with a Taser).
Eventually, Van Dyke fired at McDonald, and shot him with his entire magazine over the course of 15 seconds or so. Of course, many people know that police officers are trained to empty their weapons.
On December 16 of that year, the officer was indicted on six charges of first-degree murder, and one count of ‘official misconduct.’ Less than two weeks later, the officer pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the time of the shooting, McDonald had PCP in his system, a drug known for making people act violently and with little regard for themselves or others.
Indeed, Van Dyke’s defense team made the point that if the suspect had put down the knife or complied with police in any way, he would likely still be alive today.
On the other hand, the prosecution countered that it was not the knife-wielding teen’s failure to comply with police orders that led to his death, but rather the “indifference” to the life of the teen.
Prosecutor Jody Gleason disagreed vehemently with the idea put forward by the defense team, which suggested that Laquan was the “author, choreographer” of the events that led up to the end of his life.
Gleason declared that Officer Van Dyke shot “too early,” too often, and too long, when he shot the teenager with 16 rounds from his service pistol.
The panel of his ‘peers’ that found him guilty consisted of eight women and four men. Seven members of the jury were white, one was black, three were Hispanic, and one was Asian.
This is the first time that a police officer has been tried in Chicago on a first-degree murder charge since 1980.
However, in the end, the verdict was delivered concerning a lesser charge, second-degree murder. That is not, though, the extent of the aftermath of the shooting.
A bit more than a year after the shooting, Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, created the ‘Chicago Police Accountability Task Force,’ which almost seemed designed to bow to the demands of protestors that ‘racism’ in the police department of the city had to be found and punished.
McCarthy was the man who pointed out that he could, by the city’s laws and regulations, neither fire nor discipline Officer Van Dyke, due to an ongoing investigation being operated by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA for short.)
The shooting, and the handling of the investigation, also angered residents of the city, who called for Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to step down.
Perhaps most famously, Barack Obama’s Department of Justice, under the ‘leadership’ of Attorney General Eric Holder, ‘investigated’ the local police department, and, as in so many other situations, claimed that they found evidence of “excessive violence” against minorities in particular in the city.
Once again, the ruling, and the condemnation, seem to reflect an obvious disconnect between citizens and police officers. The jury had two days to consider their verdict, while Van Dyke had literal seconds to make a decision.