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White policeman who shot black teen guilty of murder

A white policeman who shot a black teenager dead in Chicago has been convicted of second-degree murder.

Jason Van Dyke fired 16 shots at Laquan McDonald as the 17-year-old walked away from officers in October 2014.

Police dashcam video, released on the order of a judge in November 2015, showed Mr McDonald, who was carrying a knife, fall to the ground as Van Dyke opened fire.

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Police dashcam footage showed the moments before Jason Van Dyke opened fire

Van Dyke continued shooting as the teenager was lying in the street.

According to testimony and video, officers were waiting for someone with a stun gun when Van Dyke arrived.

Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, which requires a jury to find that the shooting was unnecessary and unreasonable.

The second-degree verdict reflects the jury’s finding that while Van Dyke believed his life to be in danger, that belief was unreasonable.

Laquan McDonald was shot dead in October 2014
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Laquan McDonald was shot dead in October 2014

Sentences for second-degree murder are usually less than 20 years.

Van Dyke, 40, was also convicted of aggravated battery and acquitted of official misconduct.

It is the first time for 50 years that a Chicago police officer has been convicted of murder for a death that happened while on duty.

Van Dyke was taken into custody shortly after the verdicts were announced.

The officer was portrayed by his lawyers as being “scared’ of Mr McDonald, whom he knew had already punctured a police car’s tyre with the knife.

Jason Van Dyke
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Van Dyke was taken into custody shortly after the verdicts were announced

Dan Herbert, defending, described Van Dyke as a “sacrificial lamb” offered up by politicians and community leaders to “save themselves”.

It was a “sad day for law enforcement”, he said, adding: “Police officers are going to become security guards.”

But prosecutor Jody Gleason observed during closing arguments that Van Dyke told detectives Mr McDonald raised the knife, that he retreated and that Mr McDonald tried to get up off the ground after being shot.

“None of that happened,” she said. “You’ve seen it on video. He made it up.”

But Van Dyke and his lawyers said the video did not tell the whole story.


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