Jury finds Jason Van Dyke guilty of 2nd-degree murder

CHICAGO — A jury has found Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with murdering Laquan McDonald, guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was found not guilty of official misconduct.

The verdict was read around 1:50 p.m. Friday. The next court date is Oct. 31.

Van Dyke faces four to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder; probation without prison time is also an option. Each count of aggravated battery carries a sentence of six to 30 years. Prosecutors on Friday said it has yet to be determined whether the sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively.

Twelve jurors were sent out of the courtroom to begin deliberations about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Twenty-four hours later, it was announced a verdict had been reached.

Van Dyke, 40, is the first Chicago police officer in decades to be charged with murder for an on-duty incident. He shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014, after a truck driver called 911 to report McDonald trespassing in a locked parking lot. The driver believed McDonald was stealing car radios. The teen was high on PCP and armed with a 3-inch blade.

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3:35 p.m. Jurors thought Van Dyke's testimony was rehearsed, not credible

A number of jurors who spoke with press Friday afternoon said only two people briefly considered an acquittal and many thought Van Dyke hurt himself by taking the stand earlier this week.

Jurors said they took a vote at the beginning of deliberations: Three jurors were undecided, seven said Van Dyke was guilty, two voted he was not guilty.

The two biggest factors in rendering the verdict, jurors said, were dashcam footage and Van Dyke's own testimony.

"It seemed very rehearsed," a female juror said Friday. "I felt him staring at us, trying to win our sympathy in a way, I guess. ... We just didn’t buy it."

"Going back to his testimony," another woman said, "it was rehearsed. He had a lot of, 'I don't know.'"

"I felt he shouldn't have [testified]," a third woman said. "He messed up. His testimony wasn’t credible to me. I felt like he was trying to remember stuff that he said that maybe wasn’t true, and he didn't want to trip himself up."

Jurors said they watched dashcam footage of the shooting several times during deliberations. Jurors believed it looked as if Van Dyke took steps forward to shoot McDonald. The officer didn't backpedal, they said.

"He should've realized what the situation was," one man said, "and instead of escalating the situation, he should have looked at other options. For example, just taking the time to back away. Or the patience to wait for other vehicles."

 

1:50 p.m. Jury finds Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder

The jury has found Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and not guilty of official misconduct.

Van Dyke was immediately taken into custody and had his bail revoked. The next court date is Oct. 31.

He faces four to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder; probation without prison time is also an option. Each count of aggravated battery carries a sentence of six to 30 years. Prosecutors on Friday said it has yet to be determined whether the sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively.

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke's wife, Tiffany, watches as the verdicts are read at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Antonio Perez/pool/Chicago Tribune)

1:20 p.m. Courthouse clears out for verdict reading

All courthouse employees were told by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans to vacate the building unless they were told otherwise.

12:45 p.m. Jury has reached a verdict

The jury has reached a verdict in the Jason Van Dyke trial. The verdict will be read at 1:45 p.m. at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, 2650 S. California Ave.

11 a.m. Jurors have two questions

An alternate juror wanted to know whether she could use her sequestered laptop to set up an out-of-office email. There were no objections.

Jurors wanted to know how to approach each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery. Should they label each count according to how bullet wounds are labeled in the autopsy? In that report, each wound is labeled No. 1 through No. 16, from head to toe — not based on the order in which they entered McDonald's body.

Or, jurors asked, should they consider the simple number of shots fired?

Prosecutor Joe McMahon said, "My suggestion is the simple number of shots fired." Defense attorney Dan Herbert said, "I would object to clarifying this question for them." Judge Vincent Gaughan agreed with prosecutors.

10 a.m. Van Dyke's daughter threatened at school: 'People may come after you and kill you'

Judge Vincent Gaughan on Thursday said he was considering revoking Van Dyke's bail after the officer was late to court for a callback shortly after 5 p.m. Jurors had two questions.

Van Dyke said one of his daughters had been threatened at school, and he left to address the situation. Gaughan demanded proof, to be delivered Friday morning, and said, "I'm thinking of revoking bail."

On Friday, Gaughan said he'd let the late appearance slide this time.

According to a police report obtained by WGN News, Van Dyke's elementary-school aged daughter received a Snapchat message that said, "There might be a shooting, and people might come after you and kill you."

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke and his attorney Daniel Herbert appear before Judge Vincent Gaughan to explain the threat against Van Dyke's daughter and why Van Dyke was late coming to court Thursday evening, during Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke's murder trial at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Antonio Perez/pool/Chicago Tribune)

10 a.m. Jury begins deliberations

9:20 a.m. Jury arrives in courtroom