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Thu. Apr 25th, 2019

Justice, Upended

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a 7-year sentence for the former police officer who shot African-American teen Laquan McDonald 16 times and killed him in 2014.

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The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a 7-year sentence for the former police officer who shot African-American teen Laquan McDonald 16 times and killed him in 2014.

Back in January, the former Chicago police officer was given a sentence of six years and nine months despite testimony from multiple black men who had experienced their own violent encounters with Jason Van Dyke which all pointed to a long-standing record of abuse and racial bias.

The state Supreme Court denied a request by the attorney general, Kwame Raoul, to resentence Van Dyke, a decision which has sparked city-wide outrage.

Raoul petitioned the court to vacate the second-degree murder sentence of six years and nine months and to resentence him for each of the 16 gunshots Van Dyke fired into McDonald’s body.

Had the petition been granted, the former police officer could have faced up to 96 years in prison.

The case began to fall apart when the presiding judge decided to sentence on the murder charge rather than the aggravated battery charges, which, surprisingly, carry a greater potential sentence. The decision flew in the face of established Illinois Supreme Court precedent.

McDonald was 17 when he was murdered.

“Neither the Supreme Court’s decision today, nor the sentence determined by Judge Gaughan rescinds the felony convictions or undermines the jury’s verdict, or makes me any less proud of my team’s exemplary work the last two and a half years.”

Joseph McMahon, special prosecutor
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