BREAKING NEWS: Prosecutor asks Illinois Supreme Court to review judge’s 81-month sentence in police shooting death of Laquan McDonald

FILE – In this Oct. 30, 2018 file photo, from left, former Detective David March, Chicago Police Officer Thomas Gaffney and former officer Joseph Walsh appear at a pre-trial hearing at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. Prosecutors have laid out their case against the three Chicago police officers accused of participating in a cover-up of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. The trial of officers charged with lying in their reports to protect Van Dyke is set to begin on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool File)


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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul held a press conference today with Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon to announce they are challenging the 81-month prison sentence given to Jason Van Dyke for the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Raoul says he is specifically challenging Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan’s decision to sentence Van Dyke for second-degree murder, not aggravated battery.

The challenge has been made in a petition for a writ of mandamus filed with the state Supreme Court.

If the judge’s current sentence stands, Van Dyke would likely serve a little more than three years in prison after shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

The Case

Last October, Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. Van Dyke was found not guilty of official misconduct. This came 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.

ABC7 Chicago spoke with the only African-American on the jury for her opinion on VanDyke’s potential sentencing: “If it was me, I would give life. … I don’t want to see him get a slap on the wrist just because they feel he’s a police officer and people are feeling sorry for him,” said Charlene Cooke.

Officer Thomas Gaffney, former Officer Joseph Walsh, and former Detective David March were each charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct for allegedly exaggerating the threat the 17-year-old posed to officers. Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson found them not guilty and all three officers were acquitted.

The judge said there was no evidence that officers tried to hide or bury the evidence. “The evidence shows just the opposite,” she said. She singled out how they had preserved the police dashboard camera video at the heart of the evidence that convicted Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times.

Prosecutors claim the police reports filed by those officers were part of a conspiracy to cover up for Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.

Officials said the officers’ statements did not match up with the dashcam recording of the shooting.