Van Dyke, now in his mid-40s, has been in custody since his conviction in October 2018 on aggravated battery and second degree murder charges for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. In 2014, Van Dyke shot the Black teen 16 times. Video of the shooting from a police dashboard camera, released more than a year later, was a key piece of evidence in the trial and inflamed public reaction across the country. Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one count for each shot that hit McDonald.
Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, so he’ll be serving about half his sentence after receiving credit for good behavior.
Grace Memorial Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s uncle, said he was notified Friday of Van Dyke’s pending release.
“It’s a shame that Jason Van Dyke has a date that he can be paroled and free from his past to a certain degree and Laquan McDonald can never have another birthday,” Hunter said. “My prayer is that Mr. Van Dyke comes out a different man than when he went in.”
William Calloway, the activist who was instrumental in getting the dash cam video of the shooting released, said the former cop should remain behind bars.
“The federal government has the legal authority, U.S. Attorney John Lausch has the legal authority, and he has the moral obligation to file federal civil rights charges on Jason Van Dyke,” Calloway said.
Van Dyke has spent the last three-plus years in multiple out-of-state prisons and at one point was assaulted while in the general population of a facility in Connecticut. His attorney, Jennifer Blagg, who worked on his appeal said she doesn’t know exactly where he’ll be released from next month. He is currently in an out-of-state facility in protective custody.
“He wants to have a quiet life,” Blagg said. “Well, I can say that Jason doesn’t want to be on the media. He doesn’t want to have anybody covering him, I don’t think. I can’t speak for Jason, but I know what kind of person he is, and I think he just wants to live his life.”
And afterward, he’ll spend at least two years on parole and will have to check in with a parole officer on a regular basis while remaining in the Chicago area.
Messages left for the U.S. Attorney’s office were not returned. Calloway is now calling on the transit unions to halt CTA services later this month in an effort to pressure the feds to file charges.
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