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Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke found guilty of second-degree murder for shooting Laquan McDonald

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke has been found guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated battery over the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke has been found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, Reuters reported.

What are the details?

Van Dyke, 40, was originally charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct for shooting McDonald 16 times after responding to a call about someone breaking into vehicles.

Several officers were standing at the scene when McDonald — who was brandishing a knife — was shot as he appeared to be moving away from the police, according to the later-released dashcam video. Van Dyke claimed he shot McDonald 16 times when the teen swung a knife at him. The grainy dash cam video showed McDonald holding a knife at the side of his body, about 15 feet away from Van Dyke, and walking away from him.

McDonald's death sparked protests in Chicago over police and race relations, with many calling for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) to step down due to the handling of the case. Emmanuel was accused of withholding the video footage from the public for more than a year until after he had been re-elected to his second term.

Jurors were able to consider second-degree murder in the case — which the judge explained was "a combination of first-degree murder and a mitigating factor." The 16 separate counts of aggravated battery were for each of the times Van Dyke shot McDonald. The officer was acquitted of official misconduct.

Fox News reported that Van Dyke's defense attorney Daniel Herbert had argued during the trial that McDonald was an "out-of-control individual who didn't care about anyone," and that his client was a "scared police officer who was fearful of his life and the life of others." Herbert told jurors McDonald would still be alive had he dropped the knife he was carrying when police approached.

What else?

Prosecutors called the killing "completely unnecessary" and claimed that the night McDonald was shot, all Van Dyke saw was a "black boy walking down the street" who had the "audacity to ignore police."

Three officers are charged with conspiring to cover up and lie about the incident, according to Fox News.

WLS-TV reported that the sentence for second-degree murder can range anywhere from probation up to 20 years, and that each aggravated battery with a firearm charge carries a sentence of six to 30 years.

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