A former Chicago police officer was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald—a 17-year-old black boy who was fatally shot 16 times. The sentence includes time served.
Judge Vincent Gaughan announced the ruling Friday, about three months after Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the death of McDonald. Van Dyke is said to be the first Chicago officer in 50 years to be convicted of murder. And although prosecutors were seeking a minimum 18-year sentence, McDonald's uncle, Pastor Marvin Hunter, called the ruling a victory.
"I want to say to everyone—everyone in the city of Chicago and across this country—that if they had sentenced him to 1 minute, it is a victory," Hunter said, according to ABC 7. "It is a victory because what has happened in this courtroom today has never happened in the history of this county [...] it sends a strong message to unjust police officers that now you can and will go to jail if you're caught lying, if you're caught breaking the law."
The shooting took place on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, on 4100 S. Pulaski Road in Chicago. Van Dyke and other officers were responding to reports that the teenager was wielding a knife and breaking into cars. Shortly after law enforcement confronted McDonald, Van Dyke got out of his police vehicle and began shooting. Initial police reports stated that the teen had made aggressive moves toward the officers, prompting Van Dyke to open fire. Those claims were contradicted by dash cam footage, which showed McDonald walking away before he was gunned down.
On Thursday, three Chicago officers were found not guilty of attempting to cover up the details of McDonald's shooting. Officer Thomas Gaffney, former officer Joseph Walsh, and former detective David March were accused of falsifying police reports in an attempt to protect Van Dyke. Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson said the state failed to provide proof that the men had intentionally misled investigators.