Chicago, Illinois – A judge in the United States has sentenced former white police officer Jason Van Dyke to six years and nine months in prison, plus two years probation, for the 2014 murder of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
It is the first time in decades that a police officer in the racially divided city of Chicago has been convicted of on-duty murder and sentenced to jail time.
But activists decried Friday’s sentence as too lenient, while the convicted killer said he “felt great” after the sentencing, according to his lawyer, who all spoke to the press after the emotional, nearly nine-hour hearing.
Van Dyke had pumped 16 shots into 17-year-old McDonald on October 20, 2014, continuing to fire after the boy’s body hit the pavement.
Van Dyke and other officers first claimed he acted in self-defence, but late last year a mostly white jury found otherwise after viewing dashboard camera footage of the incident, which showed McDonald holding a small knife while veering away from the officer.