CHICAGO — Jason Van Dyke’s wife on Thursday said she believes her husband was targeted in a prison attack last week “for being who he is.”
Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer who was convicted last year of murdering Laquan McDonald, was recently transferred to a federal prison in Connecticut.
His attorneys alleged a group of fellow inmates, all black, entered Van Dyke’s cell Feb. 7 and attacked him, leaving him bruised with facial injuries.
“They are punishing him for being who he is,” Tiffany Van Dyke said. “… You’ve said it from Day 1, everybody has said it from Day 1 — this is a race issue. This is a gigantic race issue. They put my husband in a setting to be harmed because it is a fact that he is a white man who harmed a black gentleman in the line of duty.”
Jason Van Dyke, 40, was sentenced last month to six years and nine months in prison for murdering McDonald in 2014. Van Dyke will likely serve about three years before being paroled.
Defense attorneys Daniel Herbert and Tammy Wendt said Jason Van Dyke was transferred to a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., on Feb. 5. The attorneys didn’t know why he was transferred to the facility, where inmates are allowed to walk between cells.
There’s no comment from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Jason Van Dyke is now being held in a segregated cell for 23 hours a day, defense attorneys said. He was treated by a prison medic.
“Enough is enough,” Herbert said. “This man has been sentenced. He is allowed to be safe in prison. The mentality out there seems to be that people won’t rest until he is either given a life sentence or killed in prison. That’s extremely unfortunate, and it’s certainly not what our system is about.”
Earlier this week, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and special prosecutor Joe McMahon asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review the sentence in this case.
An order from the court could send the case back to Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan for a new sentence.
Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer in 50 years to be convicted of murder for an on-duty incident. He shot McDonald 16 times after a truck driver called 911 to report McDonald in a locked truck lot near 41st Street and Pulaski Road on Oct. 20, 2014. The 17-year-old was armed with a 3-inch knife and high on PCP.
Video of the shooting, which was released via court order in November 2015, sparked massive protests and prompted federal and local investigations.