Published: Sat, January 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Jason Van Dyke Sentencing Hearing

Jason Van Dyke Sentencing Hearing

His attorneys submitted dozens of letters from police officers, longtime friends of Van Dyke and his family asking the judge for leniency.

Under cross-examination, though, Joy acknowledged that he did not allege Van Dyke used a slur in his first accounts of the stop. The aggravated battery convictions carry a potential sentence of between six and 30 years with no probation.

Thomas Gaffney, former Chicago police detective David March, and former officer Joseph Walsh (Van Dyke's partner) were acquitted Thursday, at the conclusion of a bench trial for allegedly falsifying reports. The verdict marked the first time in more than 50 years that a Chicago police officer had been convicted of murder for an on-duty incident.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October for fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The lead defense attorney, Dan Herbert, said Van Dyke "truly felt great" after learning his sentence.

"Other officers were calling me a rat, a snitch, a traitor, they wouldn't back me up", she said.

The final decision rests with Judge Vincent Gaughan, a veteran jurist who has given no public indication of how he will structure Van Dyke's punishment.

"This case was a case where the code of silence was on trial", he said, referring to the long tradition that officers do not report wrongdoing by their colleagues.

Van Dyke's wife, Tiffany, told the court her "life has been a nightmare" and that she can't sleep without her husband by her side.

The 40-year-old Van Dyke arrived wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit and being guarded by sheriff's deputies.

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However, his sentence was less than half the time prosecutors had wanted, after they asked for 18 to 20 years by making the 16 aggravated battery charges the main sentence - instead the judge agreed the second-degree murder charge was the main offence. Jurors said they faulted Van Dyke for escalating the conflict when he could have waited for an officer with a non-lethal Taser weapon. Thompson, who is black and whose wife is the sister of Van Dyke's wife, said he has never seen anything to indicate that Van Dyke is racist in the 13 years they've been acquainted.

In her hourlong statement, Stephenson said it was "indisputable and undeniable" that McDonald was a threat.

Beyond the video, which shows McDonald walking away from Van Dyke just before the shooting, Stephenson attacked the credibility of state witnesses.

A judge rejected allegations that the shocking video of Laquan McDonald's death proved that police officers staged a cover-up in the fatal shooting of the black teen.

Judge Stephenson pointed out that the police video at the centre of the case had been preserved.

The case hinged on dash cam video of the fatal shooting and police reports. He argued that McDonald had lunged at him with the knife, a claim that was easily refuted by the video evidence.

The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.

Police had been responding to a call that reported a man was breaking into trucks and stealing radios, yet due to the evidence from dash-cam and surveillance footage, it seemed clear that the circumstances did not call for the police to use deadly force. Prosecutors presented several options that would keep the former officer behind bars for decades.

The 2015 release of video of the killing prompted days of protests in Chicago.

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