A judge on Friday sentenced white former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to nearly seven years in prison after a landmark verdict last fall found him guilty of murder in the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke to 81 months in prison and said he would have to serve at least two years before he was eligible for parole.
Van Dyke, 40, appearing unshaven and wearing a yellow-orange jail uniform in court, faced up to 20 years in prison for his second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of 16 counts of aggravated battery – one count for each shot he fired at McDonald, who was carrying a knife.
Gaughan did not rule on the aggravated battery charges, explaining second-degree murder was the more serious crime.
The verdict in October marked the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer was held criminally accountable for the killing of an African-American, and touched off celebratory street demonstrations in Chicago.
The jury’s verdict followed numerous acquittals or mistrials of police officers facing criminal charges across the country in the deaths of black men.
The hearing came a day after another judge found three of Van Dyke’s former police colleagues not guilty of conspiring to protect him after he fatally shot 17-year-old McDonald.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer, Sonya Hepinstall and James Dalgleish