Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has been found guilty for the 2014 shooting death of Laquan Mcdonald. Van Dyke shot the 17-year-old 16 times and continued to fire his weapon even as the teenager was on the ground motion-less. None of the other officers on the scene opened fire.
The jury began deliberating yesterday afternoon. They found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. Van Dyke was found not guilty of official misconduct. This comes after Van Dyke took to the stand in his own defense, giving a version of the fateful encounter that did not correlate with the video evidence prosecutors presented.
He claimed McDonald “advanced” toward him during the encounter with a knife in his hand and that is what prompted him to open fire. The video evidence proved that recollection of events to be false.
A Call for Peace
Officials and residents had been bracing for the worst if Van Dyke had been acquitted. In advance of whatever the verdict might have been, officials and residents around the city are preparing for a potentially angry reaction from Black residents. A group of Black pastors and activists, in a sort of pre-emptive move, called for protest, policy action, and a daylong strike of all city workers — but no violence. This was to prepare for if a jury failed to convict Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald.
“We do not want people to be calm,” William Calloway, an activist from South Shore told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Because there’s no reason to be calm if somebody who shot somebody 16 times is acquitted for murder.
“What we are asking the community of the city of Chicago is to be non-violent and non-destructive,” Calloway added, saying the city needed to rise up for anything less than a murder conviction.
Calloway was the man who filed a Freedom of Information Act request in May 2015 which eventually forced the release of the video that showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times. He and a large group of Black pastors from across the city came together on Monday to outline their plans, which include a “rapid response” team of volunteers to deploy in the wake of a verdict.