Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times was sentenced to 81 months in prison on Friday. Van Dyke was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in October – more than four years after Laquan’s death.
The ex-cop was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm – 1 count for each time he shot Laquan, according to WPTV.
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke only for the 2nd-degree murder charge.
A special prosecutor recommended that Van Dyke be sentenced to 18 years on the aggravated battery charges. But Van Dyke’s lawyer pleaded with the judge to sentence Van Dyke only on the murder charge, saying it would be unfair to sentence him for 16 counts of aggravated battery since the bullet wounds caused Laquan’s death.
Van Dyke was given the opportunity to speak before his sentence was handed down.
“No one wants to take someone’s life, even in defense of their own,” he said, adding that he “prayed daily” for Laquan’s soul.
The prosecution called several Black men to the stand, who testified that they had run-ins with Van Dyke while he was on duty.
The first man, Vidale Joy, said Van Dyke pulled his car over as he was leaving a gas station. He said Van Dyke put a gun to his head and called him the n-word.
After the three witnesses testified, Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Kaylee, took the witness stand. Tiffany Van Dyke pleaded with the judge to release her husband. “My life has been a nightmare,” she said. She added that her husband was simply doing his job. “There was no malice, no hatred on that night.”
Tiffany Van Dyke (pictured) begged the judge for leniency, saying her husband’s life is over. “He paid the ultimate price.”
The couple’s 17-year-old daughter Kaylee read a letter to the judge, saying she was bullied in school and had lost friends over her father’s actions.
“My heart sincerely goes to the McDonald family, but it’s time to bring my dad home,” she said in her letter. “It’s time for him to hug and kiss his wife and protect his family. Bring my dad home. Please.”
Laquan’s great uncle the Rev. Marvin Hunter also took the stand to read a letter he submitted to the court.
In the letter, Hunter said Van Dyke became “judge, jury and executioner” the night he killed Laquan, who was walking away from Van Dyke when he was shot 16 times in 15 seconds.
Speaking in his nephew’s voice, Hunter said, “Why should this person, who has ended my life forever because he chose to become judge, jury and executioner, and has never asked for forgiveness, be free, when I am dead forever?”
A day before Van Dyke’s sentencing hearing, three Chicago officers were acquitted of falsifying reports to protect Van Dyke.
Photos by Antonio Perez-Pool/Getty Images