The officer was sentenced in 2019 to nearly seven years in prison for killing a black teenager.
“October 20, 2014 will always be the worst day of my life,” said Van Dyke, referring to the day he shot McDonald 16 16 times during his 2019 sentencing hearing. “The McDonald’s family suffered because of my actions,” he continued.
Van Dyke is now being released after three years, which is tied to good behavior in prison. Although this was less than half of his original sentence, it was greatly anticipated.
“In Illinois, convicted felons are, by law, deserving of a legal good time,” said Joe McMahon, a former special counsel who presided over Van Dyke’s state sentence.
“When I think back to what my reaction was when this sentence was handed down in 2019, (it was) amazing,” McMahon told CNN. “He’s going to leave soon.”
At the time, McMahon was asking Van Dyke to serve 18-20 years.
“I understand that the sentence imposed is less than a lot of people wanted. It’s less than I heard, it’s less than I thought it was appropriate,” McMahon told CNN.
However, he added, “This is a successful case. In any jurisdiction – especially here in Chicago – it is incredibly rare for a police officer to be convicted of murder and convicted and sentenced to life in prison.”
This is a feeling that is echoed even by some in McDonald’s family.
McDonald’s great uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter told CNN: “We have never asked for revenge, we have sought justice.
Call for federal fees
Many have called for Van Dyke to face federal charges after completing his state sentence. They include the NAACP, some members of the McDonald’s family, and Bobby Rush, the U.S. envoy representing much of southern Chicago.
“The sentence was slapped on the wrist,” Rush told CNN.
“Justice has not really been served. So there is no comfort, no peace. There is no sense of ‘OK, we will move forward’ because we cannot move forward,” he said. “I can not rest in peace until I know all the ways are exhausted.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman acknowledged that the letter was from two U.S. senators from Illinois, Dick Durbin and Tommy Duckworth, and said the department was reviewing the information.
Not everyone, including members of McDonald’s own family, wants federal fees for Van Dyke.
Initially, he said, some of those who inspired McDonald’s name were more concerned about themselves than reforming the organization. Second, he said he was concerned about the implications of imposing federal fees in this particular situation.
“If they win, Mr. Van Dyke, who has been indicted at the federal level, will set a precedent for the hundreds and thousands of black people still in prison in this country, some of whom are innocent, and whenever they do their time … they can use it to sue again and keep them there.”
Separately, McMahon told CNN that the investigation was a joint state and federal effort.
“We worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois to identify witnesses, gather evidence, and document the testimony and statements of eyewitnesses and other police officers,” he said. “While I understand that different sovereigns can sue separately, the state lawsuit brought against Jason van Dyke is actually a significant joint effort between the state of Illinois and the federal government.”
CNN approached the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois, but it did not ask about any intelligence involvement in the state investigation.
No video, no hope
The important Dashcam video in the McDonald’s case has not been made public for more than a year after Van Dyke shot and killed a 17-year-old teenager.
Police initially said McDonald pointed a knife at Van Dyke in the October 2014 incident. However, the police dashcam video showed something completely different: before McDonald was shot 16 times, Van Dyke walked away.
“Do you think you would have gotten a penalty here without that Dashcam video?” Omar Jimenez of CNN asked McMahon, to which he replied “no”.
“The story would have been ordered and controlled by members of the Chicago Police Department,” McMahon said. “Their attempts to really control the narrative of what Jason van Dyke did and how it was different from what he actually did – I think it backfired.”
Hunter described what happened that night as a modern-day murder.
“This is what you saw with Lagoon McDonald – they were intimidated! This is what you do when you get out of range. This is what you do when you do anything other than what we tell you,” he told CNN.
While the critical video shows what happened brutally, it also shows what it did not do.
“After Laguan was shot 16 times, he was left to die in the middle of the street, and at least a dozen members of the Chicago Police Department were standing there, not a single police officer left,” McMahon said.
That was part of expanding the scope for Dynamic Hunter.
“The real problem in the United States is not Jason Van Dyke. This is the organization that Jason Van Dyke worked on. And we need to start changing the system,” he told CNN.
Hunter said the sentence was not sufficient and did not take into account the full extent of McDonald’s suffering.
“No matter what happens to him, no matter how much he suffers, we are not going to consider his suffering. You all reduced this boy to a second-class citizen by saying he was going to make up a sentence. Be content with him going to jail and you will all (on the other side of the issue) be satisfied because he He did not spend his life in prison, “said Hunter.
“The justice system in this country is not designed like that. If you do wrong, you have to pay for what you did.”
. “Professional creator. Subtly charming web advocate. Unapologetic problem solver. Devoted student.”