Captured on police dash cam video emptying his sidearm into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. Although Van Dyke claimed the teen had lunged at him with a knife, the video clearly shows McDonald turning around a moment before he was shot to the death by the officer.
Suspected of breaking into cars on October 20, 2014, McDonald was attempting to walk away from a group of Chicago cops when Officer Van Dyke exited his patrol car. According to initial reports, McDonald was armed with a knife and lunged at Officer Van Dyke. Fearing for his life and the lives of his fellow officers, Van Dyke shot the teen in the chest out of self-defense.
But according to witness statements and police dash cam video, McDonald had been walking away when Van Dyke took a step towards the teen before opening fire. After McDonald collapsed to the ground in a fetal position, Van Dyke continued firing his weapon until emptying his clip. As Van Dyke began reloading his gun, a fellow officer ordered him to cease firing at the dying teen.
Initially charged with first-degree murder, Van Dyke was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for every bullet fired at McDonald’s body. According to prosecutor Joseph McMahon, Van Dyke faces between four and 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction, while the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm carry a sentence of six to 30 years in prison.
Minutes after his conviction on Friday, Van Dyke was handcuffed and taken into police custody. His sentencing is scheduled for October 31.