Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer who was convicted in the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald, is scheduled to be released from prison in February after being locked up for more than three years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The former cop was sentenced to 81 months in prison in 2018 after he was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. McDonald, a 17-year-old Black boy, was shot 16 times by Van Dyke as he walked away during a confrontation on October 20, 2014.
Van Dyke’s release date is February 3, and it comes after having served three years, three months, and nine days of his aforementioned sentence. The 43-year-old initially appealed his conviction but he reportedly decided to withdraw it a year into his incarceration as he seemingly opted to complete the sentence and not come under renewed public and media scrutiny.
Hundreds of people marched throughout Chicago’s city streets in protest of McDonald’s death after the video of the shooting was eventually released. But that was a year after the fatal encounter. The case also went to trial three years after the Black teen’s killing.
McDonald’s uncle, Rev. Marvin Hunter, said officials informed him about Van Dyke’s pending release on Friday. “I’m hoping he’s learned the errors of his ways. I have always asked for justice and not revenge,” Hunter said. “We got as much justice you could get with the players that were there at the time he was on trial. The system needs to be changed, it needs to be overhauled.”
Jennifer Blagg, the attorney who represented Van Dyke during his 2019 appeal until he made the decision to withdraw the process, told the Chicago Sun-Times the former cop intends to stay under the radar after he’s released.
“This case has taken a huge toll on the family of Laquan, the city of Chicago, and Jason and his family. Jason accepted the verdict and sentence, as he did not appeal,” Blagg said. “I don’t presume to speak for Jason, but it is my sincere hope that he and his family are given their privacy as they make this transition, with Jason having served the majority of his time in solitary confinement.”
Van Dyke’s second-degree murder conviction made him eligible for an early release on condition of good behavior. However, the former cop’s attorney said he had a torrid time in prison. He was reportedly transferred to multiple prisons and was beaten by fellow inmates hours after he was put in the general population of one of the facilities.
He was placed in protective custody following the attack.