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Former Chicago cop convicted of murdering black teen gets less than seven years in prison


The murder of Laquan McDonald occurred in 2014

Antonio Perez-Pool/Getty Images

The former Chicago police officer convicted of murdering a black teenager in 2014 was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison Friday, according to WLS-TV.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October for fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The prosecution was seeking an 18-to-20 year sentence, while the defense asked for probation only. The judge sentenced Van Dyke based on the second degree murder charge, which carries a lesser sentence, because he considered it to be the more serious charge.

"The defense won the battle. But Joe McMahon and the special prosecutor team won the war," said WLS-TV legal analyst Bob Milan. "They convicted for the first time, in Chicago history, they convicted an officer in the line of duty regarding a shooting that took somebody's life."

About the crime

In 2014, officers responded to a call about a man breaking into trucks in a parking lot.

Dashcam video, which wasn't released until more than a year after the shooting, showed McDonald running and then walking away from officers in the middle of the street. He was armed with a knife.

Van Dyke fired 16 shots at McDonald in 15 seconds. He argued that McDonald had lunged at him with the knife, a claim that was easily refuted by the video evidence.

Three other former officers submitted police reports that did not align with video footage, but they were found not guilty of charges of covering up the murder.

The 2015 release of video of the killing prompted days of protests in Chicago.

Sentence too light?

Special prosecutor Joe McMahon indicated he and McDonald's mother were not fully satisfied with the sentence, but acknowledged that it was progress.

"I understand this sentence is not everything that the McDonald and the Hunter family wanted," McMahon said. "I just spoke with Laquan's mother. It is still as difficult today as I think it was for her over four years ago when her son was murdered. But this sentence, like the verdict on Oct. 5, does hold the defendant accountable."

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