The grandmother of Laquan McDonald is blasting the looming release of ex-Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke, who is set to walk free next month after serving less than half of his prison sentence for murdering the black teen in 2014.
Van Dyke, who is white, was sentenced to 81 months in prison in January 2019 after being convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated assault — or one for every shot he fired into McDonald as he held a knife about 10 feet away.
But due to good behavior while locked up, Van Dyke, 43, was eligible to have his six-year sentence slashed in half and is expected to be released on Feb. 3, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Tracie Hunter, the late 17-year-old’s grandmother, demanded federal charges be filed against Van Dyke during a news conference Thursday while denouncing his prison term as a “slap on the wrist.”
“I just want justice, the right justice,” Hunter said. “I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until this man does his rightful time.”
Congresswoman Robin Kelly, a Democrat from Illinois, compared the high-profile police killing of Laquan to that of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. Ex-cop Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison for Floyd’s slaying the following June.
“The same charges against [Van Dyke] are the same charges of the man who killed George Floyd,” Kelly said. “He got 22 years — still not enough — but 22 years compared to six years? There’s something terribly wrong with that, that is not justice.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger called on all city residents to voice their opposition to Van Dyke’s release.
“This is not a black issue,” Pfleger said. “Everyone who believes in justice should be shouting and screaming that Jason Van Dyke should not be getting out of jail.”
Van Dyke is set to be sprung after serving three years, three months and nine days behind bars, the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month.
McDonald’s uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter, told the newspaper he had been informed of Van Dyke’s pending release.
“We got as much as justice you could get with the players that were there at the time he was on trial,” Hunter said. “The system needs to be changed, it needs to be overhauled.”
An attorney who handled Van Dyke’s appeal until he dropped attempts to overturn his conviction in 2019 told the Sun-Times the disgraced cop hopes to led a quiet life once freed.
“This case has taken a huge toll on the family of Laquan, the city of Chicago, and Jason and his family,” attorney Jennifer Blagg said. “Jason accepted the verdict and sentence, as he did not appeal.”
Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois, and Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the Justice Department to bring civil rights charges against Van Dyke at a press conference on Monday, the Washington Post reported.
“There is no justice, it seems,” Rush said. “This convicted police officer is spending 39 months in prison — 39 months — for killing a black man here in Chicago.”
Rush wants the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois to file civil rights charges against Van Dyke. A spokesperson for the office referred to a 2015 statement that a federal probe into the shooting remains “active and ongoing,” the newspaper reported.
Graphic video of the deadly shooting, which a judge ordered Chicago officials to release in 2015, sparked outrage across the country and became a symbol of longstanding police abuse in the Windy City.
Chicago’s mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, subsequently fired the city’s police superintendent and voters later forced out the prosecutor who waited more than a year to file charges in McDonald’s death.
Emanuel, meanwhile, ultimately decided not to run for reelection after being widely criticized of his handling of the case.
A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said earlier this month that Van Dyke remained under the jurisdiction of the agency but was being held in another state. She declined to provide further details, citing safety and security concerns.
With Post wires