Oct 15, 2018
Friday, October 5th, Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for the murder of Laquan McDonald. Much of Chicago, particularly black Chicago, objected that Van Dyke ought to have gotten first degree murder. Still, many Chicagoans are gratified to see a cop found guilty for callously taking the life of a young black man.
This was the first time in decades that a Chicago police officer has been convicted of an on-duty shooting. And what did it take to get this one, single conviction? First, it took a clear video of the shooting - one that gave the lie to Van Dyke and the other cops' account of that night. It took witnesses who stepped forward: a man and his son who saw the shooting, afraid, but deciding to give their testimony. It took a team: a dedicated reporter, a civil rights lawyer, a community activist, months of legal work to get that video to see the light of day.
Mayor Emanuel and state's attorney Anita Alvarez suppressed the video for more than a year after the shooting, which took place in October of 2014. Alvarez did not file charges against Van Dyke until the video was released to the whole world. Many pointed out that the cover-up allowed Emanuel to get re-elected before having to deal with the scandal.
Van Dyke's defense tried to smear McDonald as a "monster out of a horror movie." But the jury believed the video – the video that showed Van Dyke stepping toward McDonald as he fired. The video that showed McDonald veering away from Van Dyke.