Illinois attorney general challenges Van Dyke murder sentence




  • In US
  • 2019-02-12 02:58:28Z
  • By By Suzannah Gonzales
FILE PHOTO: Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke watches the prosecution
FILE PHOTO: Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke watches the prosecution's closing statements during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago  

By Suzannah Gonzales

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and a prosecutor on Monday challenged the sentence of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for the murder of a black teenager, questioning whether the judge who imposed it followed the law due to his failure to account for other convictions.

Van Dyke, 40, who is white, was sentenced last month to nearly seven years in prison for second-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald in 2014 in a case that highlighted racial tensions in America's third-largest city.

Activists and prosecutors had wanted a longer sentence. Van Dyke could have received up to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and up to 30 years for each of 16 counts of aggravated battery - one count for each shot he fired at the 17-year-old McDonald, who was carrying a knife.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan did not sentence Van Dyke for the aggravated battery convictions, explaining that second-degree murder was the more serious crime. Van Dyke is appealing the conviction.

Raoul, who took office last month, and Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon, the special prosecutor in the case, filed a petition on Monday asking the Illinois Supreme Court to review the sentence.

They argued that aggravated battery is a more serious offense than second-degree murder under Illinois law and requested the supreme court direct Gaughan to vacate his sentence. They also asked for a sentence on each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery and to determine which of those involved "severe bodily injury" warranting consecutive sentences.

"This is a question of the law. And it is in the interest of justice that the law be followed no matter who the defendant and no matter who the victim is in a particular case," Raoul told reporters.

Van Dyke's attorneys Darren O'Brien and Jennifer Blagg said in a statement the petition was politically motivated and "could result in grossly excessive, unjust sentences for defendants that follow in the wake of this request."

The guilty verdict issued by a jury in October marked the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer was convicted for the killing of a black person.

The release of a police dashboard camera video showing McDonald being repeatedly shot - compelled by a lawsuit more than a year after the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting - ignited protests.

The ensuing firestorm over the case prompted the dismissal of the city's police superintendent and calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. Emanuel is not seeking a third term in this month's mayoral election.

The video was shown repeatedly during Van Dyke's three-week trial. Jurors said they faulted Van Dyke for escalating the incident.

A federal judge on Jan. 31 approved court-appointed oversight of the Chicago Police Department to address a 2017 U.S. Justice Department finding of excessive force and racial bias by officers.


(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Chicago police seek follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett
Chicago police seek follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago police said Sunday they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett after receiving new information that "shifted" their investigation of a reported attack on the "Empire" actor.

Police: Two brothers told investigators they were paid by Jussie Smollett to stage attack
Police: Two brothers told investigators they were paid by Jussie Smollett to stage attack

A police source tells USA TODAY that investigators are attempting to interview Smollett again, so they can question him about the brothers' account. Attorneys for Smollett say there is no truth to reports that the actor played a role in an assault.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett 'angered and devastated' at suggestions he was involved in his attack

The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett purchased the rope that was found around the "Empire" actor's neck, sources told ABC News Saturday. Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives

The Latest: Police: Men arrested in Smollett case are black
The Latest: Police: Men arrested in Smollett case are black

CHICAGO (AP) - The Latest on the attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett (all times local):

Chicago police: 2 questioned in Smollett attack are suspects
Chicago police: 2 questioned in Smollett attack are suspects

CHICAGO (AP) - The investigation into "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett's account of being beaten in a racist, anti-gay attack took another turn Friday when Chicago police said two men who had been questioned about the attack had been arrested on suspicion of a crime.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.