White cop found guilty of murdering black teen

Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in a confrontation in 2014.
Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in a confrontation in 2014.

CHICAGO • A white Chicago police officer was found guilty of murder for fatally shooting a black teenager and triggering months of protests in America's third largest city.

Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during the 2014 confrontation. The slaying was captured on police video that showed the knife-wielding teen appearing to walk away from officers when he was shot.

The 12-person jury reached a verdict just one day after beginning deliberations.

They chose to dispense with first-degree murder charges, and instead convicted Van Dyke of lesser second-degree murder.

The officer was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm - for each bullet he fired - and acquitted of one count of official misconduct.

"This is a victory for America," said Laquan's great-uncle and family spokesman, Mr Marvin Hunter. "Laquan McDonald represents all of the victims that suffered what he suffered."

The city of Chicago had already reached a US$5 million (S$6.9 million) civil settlement with Laquan's family.

A jubilant crowd - some of whom told local media that they were in shock over the outcome - grew steadily in the city's downtown business district, demanding additional resignations of city officials and more police reform.

Van Dyke was taken straight into custody. Under Illinois state law, he faces four to 20 years for the murder finding, while aggravated battery with a firearm carries six to 30 years.

But the head of Chicago's police union, which funded Van Dyke's defence, promised an appeal and criticised the jury for punishing an officer for simply doing his job.

Van Dyke's attorney, Mr Dan Herbert, said the officer had been made into a "sacrificial lamb" by politicians who wanted to appease an angry public.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'White cop found guilty of murdering black teen'. Print Edition | Subscribe