Jason Van Dyke, the Caucasian former Chicago police officer, who killed a Black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, has been released from prison after serving less than half his sentence. Van Dyke was released from state prison on Thursday morning after serving just a little more than three years behind bars for the 2014 murder of McDonald. The Police dash-cam video taken at the time but which did not surface for more than a year; showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times as the teen was moving away from police.
Chicago’s mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, the former top aide to Barack Obama, was accused of cover-up; at the time of the shooting.
The Chicago Tribune reported that an undisclosed source had indicated that Van Dyke was “no longer in IDOC custody” by mid-morning on Thursday; referring to the Illinois department of corrections. Van Dyke will be on parole for a further three years.
Early Release of Van Dyke Sparks Anger
The prospect of his early release, having originally been sentenced in 2018 to less than seven years; had already sparked anger among relatives, community organizers and politicians; who questioned the decision to shave three years off his sentence for “good behavior”.
McDonald’s grandmother Tracie Hunter called Van Dyke’s punishment a “slap on the wrist”; in a press conference last Thursday held by McDonald’s relatives at a local church.
“I just want justice, the right justice,” Travis Hunter said. “I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until this man does his rightful time.”
Ahead of Van Dyke’s release, the current Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot issued a statement.
“I know some Chicagoans remain disheartened and angry about Jason Van Dyke’s sentence for the murder of Laquan McDonald. As I said at the time, while the jury reached the correct guilty verdict; the judge’s decision to sentence Van Dyke to only 81 months was and remains a supreme disappointment,” the statement read.
“I understand why this continues to feel like a miscarriage of justice, especially when many Black and brown men get sentenced; to so much more prison time for having committed far lesser crimes. It’s these distortions in the criminal justice system, historically, that have made it so hard to build trust.” The statement continued.